Inmate ‘teachers’ help fellow prisoners.

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Inmates teach other prisoners to read
By Jinny Throup
There are several charities in the UK that teach prisoners how to read, but one called Shannon Trust has something that makes it unique… all of its 2,000 or so teachers are prisoners themselves. About 50% of all prisoners in England are “functionally illiterate” which means that they have a reading age of eleven or lower… and many of them are completely illiterate. This is particularly isolating in a prison environment because inmates who are unable to read or write letters are cut off from their friends and family who are a valuable source of mental and social support.

Shannon Trust inmate mentors receive training from the charity’s volunteers before beginning to work with the prisoners who want to learn to read. Due to the stigma attached to illiteracy, it was initially difficult to persuade prisoners to sign up for the scheme. However, that has been overcome, and Shannon now operates in 124 UK prisons… successfully building up literacy skills and confidence for those in need.


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