Not always as easy as A,B,C

Yusuf Patel, Adult Learning and Development Officer.
Do you take your ability to read and write for granted? There are many people  that do not have these basic skills and struggle with tasks that are second nature to us.  Over the past year I have been working with a man that exemplifies this situation.  When Peter describes his inability to read and write he recounts episodes of negative  behaviour, his spells in prison and history of alcohol addiction.  He believes he lost many years trapped in this vicious cycle as a result of lacking this skill we take for granted.  Peter decided he had had enough and I have been working with him ever since.

When I first met him I assessed his reading and writing level, as I do with every client.  The assessment confirmed he had a reading age of a young child, he could readily make out letters but not put them together into words let alone sentences.  Besides his lack of literacy skills he suffered from an inability to believe he could conquer a weakness he had lived with his entire life.  Despite this he showed a real desire to learn, attending every weekly one-to-one session, always on time and ready to take on the one of the greatest challenges he has faced in his life.

As his confidence improved so did his literacy skills.  We used a phonics approach to build Peter’s awareness of sounds, progress was slow but steady.

Peter is now able to recognise individual sounds, break down words according to these sounds and read sentences in short stories, magazines and internet websites.

New doors have since opened up for Peter, he has passed his CSCS qualification. This allows him to work on a building site and he is thinking about his future in a more positive way than a year ago.

It is people like Peter that make my role rewarding and worthwhile.  Equipping our clients with the skills we take for granted, broadens our clients’ choices and enables them to work towards achieving their life and work goals.