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International Literacy Day

07 September 2016

International Literacy Day
To celebrate the 50th International Literacy Day Prospects is sharing in custody stories from around the group. Prospects works in 40 prisons delivering the National Careers Service In Custody. One in five prisoners report needing help with reading and writing or numeracy and 47% have no qualifications compared to only 15% of the general population*.

Here colleagues from the National Careers Service In Custody share their triumphs.

Jill’s story**

Jill had stayed at home as a child to care for her siblings and did not attend school. She worked into her 50s as a ward cleaner and support worker in a local NHS hospital and over the years she had developed strategies to mask the fact that she couldn’t read or write.

After Jill was sentenced she was referred to the education department and started an entry level literacy course part time. She found work in the prison library and from there she increased her literacy skills and her confidence grew. As she progressed she began to support non-readers through one-to-one peer literacy support facilitated by The Shannon Trust.

At one point her offender supervisor recommended that she moved to another job in the prison. Unfortunately, this would have prevented her from continuing with her level 1 studies. Jill spoke to me as she was upset with decision. I contacted her supervisor and explained the benefits of Jill remaining in her role in the prison library where she could access and provide literacy support. The sentence planning decision was reversed.

Jill has now completed level 1 functional skills literacy. She has taken part in a poetry week with a local writer. Most importantly Jill shares her story with other non-readers, and day to day she continues to be an inspiration to others who are struggling with their literacy skills.

* Prison Reform Trust, Prison: the facts, Bromley Briefings Summer 2015
** Not her real name

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