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Shannon Trust works with prisons to set up and maintain the Toe by Toe Reading Plan so that prisoners who can read are able to teach those who do not read. They do this by supplying prisons with:

  • trained volunteers to help staff and prisoners set up and maintain a reading plan that is tailored to the needs of the specific establishment
  • copies of Toe by Toe to every learner and every prisoner involved in mentoring others
  • promotional resources to raise awareness and attract new learners
  • ongoing support.

Shannon Trust has secured three years of funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to develop a reading network for Young Offenders' Institutions (YOI's) in the West Midlands. The aim of the network is to identify and find solutions to the specific issues met when running the Toe by Toe Reading Plan in a YOI.

They aim to:

  • engage more young offenders more effectively in the Toe by Toe Reading Plan
  • improve continuity by tracking learners and mentors as they are moved through the YOI system
  • recruit and train suitable mentors
  • find solutions to the problems of non-readers on short sentences
  • find new ways to ensure the sustainability of the Toe by Toe Reading Plan in every establishment.

The funding has provided for the part-time position of Project Manager for which Susie O'Hagan was appointed as Project Manager for the West Midlands Reading Network in January 2008.

HMYOI Brinsford is the hub of the network and initially reaches out to the four main recipients of its young offender transfers – HMYOI Stoke Heath, HMYOI Swinfen Hall, HMYOI Werrington and HMYOI Thorn Cross.

The project will identify good practice and facilitate communication between all those involved. It will help raise awareness of the Reading Plan as well as collating and analysing relevant data. Shanoon Trust hope to establish the effect that taking part in the Toe by Toe Reading Plan can have on re-offending, as well as identifying best practice guidelines for delivery.

Another aspect of the development of the Network is to bring in and involve the Youth Offending Teams and Probation Services to ensure that learners are able to continue the Reading Plan after release.

Shannon Trust are also working to raise the profile of the Reading Plan across the Prison Estate by making and maintaining contact with Governors, Resettlement Officers, Regional Offender Managers and Heads of Learning and Skills.

Aiming to engage with, and track the progress of 600 Young Offenders over the next three years and to roll out the Network firstly across the YOI estate and then into adult establishments.

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