Wintercomfort admin
Published: 5th September 2023

As students all over the country go back to school to begin or continue their learning journey. Supported by Wintercomfort, at the age of 63, Dave* is embarking on a learning journey of his own. He is learning to read.

Please read his story below, and if you can, donate to our Literacy and Social Inclusion Fundraising Campaign here

The gaps in Dave’s education are one example of the many disadvantages that have limited his life chances. Experiencing a cycle of periods of homelessness, criminal activity and imprisonment throughout his life, Dave’s story is one that is typical of so many people we support here.

Poor literacy is a barrier to employment and opportunity. People who lack these skills can become trapped in poverty and are more likely to commit crime.

According to the National Literacy Trust

“At any given time, there are around 80,000 people in custody in England and Wales. Around two-thirds of them have the literacy skills expected of an 11-year-old. This is more than four times higher than in the general adult population.”

The downward spiral towards homelessness for many who have spent time in prison is common.

Furthermore, a 2021 study by Homeless Link Member Services found that 50% of young people experiencing homelessness lacked literacy and numeracy skills.

This staggering statistic is one that seems to be borne out across broader age groups and poor literacy is certainly something that the people we support at Wintercomfort cite as a significant factor in contributing to their social exclusion.

Our team regularly support people to fill in forms, to read letters and to access online services. Every day tasks that most of us take for granted. For those who can’t read, these tasks can seem insurmountable.

A core part of our service is to empower people with the skills, knowledge and support they need to positively transform their lives beyond homelessness.  Alongside our practical support, we run book groups and activities, supported by our wonderful volunteer Heidi Mulvey to promote a love of reading.

We’re also delighted to have recently partnered with Read Easy UK, a charitable organisation providing reading lessons and support for adults. Working with his tutor Richard, Dave has made fantastic progress in his learning journey and is so committed to his sessions. Talking about his experience he says,

“Not being able to read has held me back for so long. I’m determined to give it my all now and I’m getting better every day. Richard is fantastic – so kind and patient. I love working with him”.

The Read Easy team are equally impressed with Dave’s progress. As Juliet Gibbs, local coordinator says,

“What a fantastic journey Dave is on! From being depressed and totally lacking confidence, he has found that ‘improving your reading skills can turn your life around!’ He now feels far more confident and is proud to have received his first ever certificate to celebrate his achievement in gaining his new reading skills!”

You can support our commitment to improving literacy and social inclusion by donating to our Literacy Fundraiser. We want to purchase a library of books that are suitable for adults who are learning to read – interesting and compelling stories that are written in simple language such as those produced by Gatehouse Books | The Adult Literacy Specialist and Shannon Trust.

Money raised will support us to purchase a library of adult learner-focused books and to continue our provision of social inclusion activities, working to remove barriers to opportunity for all those we support.

If you would like to support our campaign please visit our Just Giving page here