MP calls for grassroots work on adult illiteracy

Former prison inmate Andy Paradise  who has started a group teaching adults to read at the Gosport Discovery Centre
Former prison inmate Andy Paradise who has started a group teaching adults to read at the Gosport Discovery Centre
Forest School Leaders Dawn White and Sue Evans with their pupils outside the school

Picture: Habibur Rahman (180146-338)

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AN MP has praised the way community groups in Gosport are tackling adult illiteracy and innumeracy.

Gosport’s MP Caroline Dinenage led a backbench debate in the House of Commons yesterday, as she called for grassroots solutions to the problem.

Ms Dinenage said one in six adults in the country is functionally illiterate, meaning they have the reading age of an 11-year-old.

She said: ‘It’s worth pointing out really strongly that just because someone is illiterate or innumerate they’re not stupid.

‘Just think how sharp you have be to get through a day of life without these skills.

‘Some people are incredibly bright but they have just missed an opportunity somewhere in their life.’

She added: ‘This is a problem which can only be tackled by the grassroots.’

Ms Dinenage praised the work of two groups in Gosport, Read and Grow, and Out There Community.

The latter runs maths and English classes in community centres across the borough.

Sue Iacovou said she was delighted with Ms Dinenage’s continued support.

She said: ‘It’s excellent, Caroline’s always been involved in the project, helping us continue funding with it.

‘We run our classes in the community.

‘We’re trying to remove barriers to learning so that the courses can be accessed by everyone, all adult learners aged 19 and over.’

Sue and her team, employed by St Vincent College but funded by Hampshire Learning, make use of community centres and church halls.

As reported, Read and Grow is a peer learning scheme run by Gosport resident Andy Paradise.

It pairs an untrained coach with someone who cannot read, and the pair work together through a book called Yes We Can Read.

Andy said: ‘It’s absolutely marvellous that we get Caroline’s support.

‘She’s absolutely right about getting it back into the grassroots.

‘And it’s possible with Yes We Can Read, that’s what we’re trying to do, get it back into the community.

For more on Out There Community call (023) 9252 5704 and for more on Read and Grow see