A DRIVE to improve adult literacy has been launched to tackle a crippling lack of confidence, wellbeing and employability suffered by millions who struggle to read.
Whitehead Ross Education and Consulting has launched the initiative to help adults whose lives have been blighted by poor reading skills.
Surveys have shown about 15 per cent, or 5.1 million adults in England and Wales, can be described as ‘functionally illiterate.’
They would not pass an English GCSE and have literacy levels at or below those expected of an 11-year-old. They can understand short, straightforward texts on familiar topics but reading information from unfamiliar sources, or on unfamiliar topics could cause problems.
This can lead to higher levels of depression, a lack of empathy and difficulty maintaining relationships, say consultants.
Whitehead-Ross Education and Consulting’s Managing Director Ian Ross said: “It is vitally important to address this issue, as poor literacy skills have a ripple effect in people’s lives.
“Once you improve a person’s literacy, a whole raft of benefits is unlocked, such as job opportunities, higher self-esteem and the emotional benefits reading for fun can bring.”
Shocking surveys have revealed that 20 per cent of children cannot read well by the age of 11, and 17 per cent of 15-year-olds do not have a minimum level of proficiency in literacy.
Another survey revealed that unemployed adults are twice as likely to have weak literacy skills as those in full-time employment.
Now Whitehead-Ross Education and Consulting has launched an adult reading initiative across all of its adult courses in Brighton, designed to get adults reading and improving their literacy skills.
Ian added: “Many adults are reluctant to admit to their literacy difficulties and ask for help.
“One of the most important aspects of supporting adults with low literacy levels is to increase their self-esteem and persuade them of the benefits of improving their reading and writing.”
The firm has invested in short story books from the National Literacy Trust, designed for adults, so learners can start reading as soon as they arrive for their course. The fiction and non-fiction books include short biographies, humour, love, travel, sport and life stories.