“Once you learn to read, you will be free forever”
Well North is about getting the basics in place that can support good health and wellbeing. We know that literacy is one of the biggest drivers of social mobility – opening access to information that many of us take for granted and with obvious benefits to employment. But the impacts of literacy are far wider than this, for instance people can then make more informed choices on their health, and improved literacy has been shown to raise parents’ confidence with big effects for children.
However, in Denaby Main we know that there are high numbers of people without functional skills in reading and maths – the last Census showed around half of adults in the area did not have a qualification. It is really important that we take steps to address this – the evidence base to improve adult literacy is mixed but it is strong where adults learn in a family context. Therefore we are working with Reread, a local social enterprise passionate about the power of books. Find out more about Reread by visiting their webpage www.reread.org.uk Reread will coordinate literacy support in the area, working with a range of partners, and connect with families through the private nursery, the Family Hub, local schools and community groups. Reread are striving to make sure this engagement is fun, informal and social – to avoid repeating the negative experiences that people have had in the past, and to raise awareness of poor literacy while reducing stigma and embarrassment.
Christine from Reread shares with us her thoughts about helping people in Denaby develop a love of reading and see the positive influence it has in other areas of their lives:
‘We’ve really hit the ground running, as a lot of work has been carried out in the local community. This means that we have been able to build on the contacts Doncaster has in the community. We have also been working hard to forge new ones too and will be ongoing throughout the project.
Our whole reason for working with communities is seen in the ethos of Re-Read Ltd. As a social enterprise, our focus has been that reading as a basic need and we have helped to encourage reading in Doncaster over the last 5 years by giving away 250,000 children’s books.
We took on the management of Denaby Community Library and Hub in May 2016 under the auspices of Well Doncaster. We have seen the number of people using the space increase over the last 12 months, with people coming and enjoying the groups that meet there, free Wi-Fi, a drink or a piece of fruit. One of the advantages of being in the community at the library is that we can listen and learn about what people want to read, how they want to read and, indeed, if they struggle to read.
Another advantage to being based at the library is that we can get involved in lots of community events – and that means meeting more people! This is one of the joys of the work that we do, being out and about getting to know people and seeing how we can help them achieve their goals. Having conversations with people and getting their perspective on the world allows us to start building a framework within which we can provide support and help other develop a love of reading.
The focus of Denaby Reads is to have a lasting impact on literacy help people catch a vision of the enjoyment and power that reading represents for many people. We are in a position to see who needs our support, gather information about what kind of help is available and to make links so that the whole community is aware of the benefits of reading. As we get underway we are looking to the wider community to help us by growing a group of volunteers who can support new and inexperienced readers.
Denaby Reads, as a project, will provide experiences that are inclusive and perhaps not the typical fayre encountered in adult reading classes and groups. There are so many ways to read currently and so many types of written formats that we can access and we’re really looking forward to exploring some great ideas.’
Christine and her team will keep you updated on Denaby Reads as the programme unfolds.