Read Easy UK is a national charity providing free, 1-to-1 and confidential help to the 2.4m UK adults in need of help with reading skills.
Sadly, people who struggle with reading have, on average, significantly worse physical and mental health and employment prospects. In an increasingly digital world it's getting harder to cope, and few service providers offer support for people who can't read.
Simply, we transform lives: evaluation shows that the people who come to us experience >200% improvement in ability to cope with everyday life and >200% increase in confidence about themselves. They improve work prospects, their health and wellbeing. Often they read to children or grandchildren, satisfying in itself and also encouraging the next generation to read.
Our service is free to use because of our volunteer-based model.
The stigma in coming forward is huge. We are also campaigning to help organisations that work with the public (eg NHS) to understand the problem and put in place measures to help non-readers. You may have seen the BBC1 documentary with Jay Blades from "the Repair Shop" learning to read with us.
Our group is one of the larger of Read Easy's 80+ local groups. We have grown fast from a base in Exeter to cover much of Mid, E, W and N Devon/Torridge. Separate groups exist in Plymouth, Torbay and Axminster/Seaton.
We recruit volunteer coaches to teach adults (18+) to read for free. Our service is 1-1 and confidential. The 1-1 nature of the service is particularly helpful because many people who struggle with reading have individual issues which are solvable but require 1-1 help.
Volunteer coaches need not be professional teachers. We give them professional training in a proven method and a set of reading workbooks and a supporting toolkit. They are supported by volunteer education experts who can help them find strategies to deal with any particular learning issues. Our coaches find the role very satisfying.
Our coaching is delivered face to face in public places like libraries, or using video calls. The pandemic showed that teaching someone to read over Zoom is perfectly possible, and provides advantages in avoiding travel time and cost. Some people learning to read prefer the confidentiality and privacy of video from home.
The huge stigma in coming forward for help with reading means that we have to work hard on encouraging people to come forward. The people who come to us for help tend to be referred by community organisations in public and third sectors, so we have various volunteers networking in our community building partnerships. As a free service, we are very attractive to referrers!
All of our local group teams are volunteers which makes us incredibly cost-efficient. Funders love us as we only need around £150 per person helped (for books and for professionally training our volunteers), while delivering life-changing help with twice weekly interventions over two years.
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