Shannon Trust

Shannon Trust

At a glance


  • Criminal justice
  • Education
  • Training / employment support

Other details

Organisation type: 
Geographical remit: 
National - Britain


Shannon Trust supports thousands of prisoners each year to transform their lives by unlocking the power of reading.  We inspire and train prisoners who can read, to teach prisoners who can’t. Whilst most of us take reading for granted, for thousands of people in prison, reading a letter from home, considering a job application or looking at a newspaper is not possible until they learn to read.  


Our reading programme is designed to make it as easy as possible for someone struggling with reading to begin to learn and improve their skills. Trained prisoner peer mentors work on a 1-to-1 basis with their learners in short bursts, usually 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week.  Sessions take place in a safe, private space and learners progress at their own pace; there are no exams. 


The reading programme uses Turning Pages, Shannon Trust's reading scheme, specifically designed for adults learning to read. It's made up of 5 manuals and 30 accompanying reading books.  Our nationwide team of staff and volunteers train and support peer mentors in prison, and we work closely with prison staff across the estate to make the Shannon Trust available to anyone struggling with reading. 


50-60% of people in prison are below level 1 in literacy. Level 1 in literacy roughly equates to what would be expected of an 11-year-old. If people in prison don’t have these basic literacy skills in place – the ability to read or write with confidence - they are less likely to engage in other, more advanced education, training or employment initiatives on offer.  To improve access to education, we need to improve engagement at all levels. Shannon Trust seeks to provide a bridge into these initiatives by providing opportunities to develop and utilise these basic skills.  

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