If you are reading this, you are doing something amazing!

I’ve just finished dinner (delicious, thank you for asking). In order to accomplish this new dish I was trying (Moroccan lamb), I first had to locate an easy-to-follow recipe, place an online grocery shop, drive to collect it, message my children regarding likes/dislikes/allergies, follow the slow cooker instructions, text my mother for advice…..the eating was by far the easiest part!
You can probably tell I’m no Nigella but I was able to achieve a result because of a skill that I learned a long time ago. It isn’t cooking (that’s a work in progress), it’s reading. Reading, like breathing, we take for granted, don’t even notice we’re doing it. Unfortunately, for many adults, this isn’t the case, creating a massive barrier to everyday activities such as shopping, accessing the internet, driving, texting and reading instructions.
How big a problem is this though? The most recent UK skills survey* found that 7.1% of adults were at or below Entry Levels 1 and 2, representing 2.4 million adults nationally with serious reading difficulties. Whilst free Functional Skills classes are available at colleges, these would be inaccessible to those people below Entry Level 3 meaning an estimated 22,000 adults in Preston, who are struggling with literacy and unable to find help. Amazingly, many hide their difficulties from those closest to them for many years.
Fortunately help is at hand! Read Easy UK is a national charity which offers free, one-to-one, confidential coaching to adults who wish to learn to read. Coaches are trained and paired with a learner whom they meet in a library or community space for two half-hourly sessions per week – they even continued during lockdown online or on the phone. They currently support 36 affiliated Read Easy groups across England with 13 more in the pipeline, including Preston.
I live in Fulwood and am the volunteer Pioneer for Read Easy Preston. As a primary teacher, passionate about improving engagement with literacy, I really want to help those adults left behind. I know how underlying conditions or adverse childhood experiences can impact ability to learn, even when attending school. It becomes increasingly difficult to catch up and people can suffer into high school and beyond, believing that they just can’t learn to read. It’s never too late though – Read Easy’s oldest graduate is 88 years old!
I am now looking for volunteers to join our team and get the group going. No teaching experience is needed so if you want to help, you will almost certainly have something to offer. Training and support is provided for all roles. Call me for a chat about this friendly, rewarding venture and help to change lives.
By Rachel Coupe,
Read Easy Preston Pioneer
Call Rachel on 07487 577343
or email preston@readeasy.org.uk
For information visit the website:
www.readeasy.org.uk or follow
@readeasypreston on Facebook and Twitter.
* UK Government ‘Skills for Life Survey’, 2011