Increasing Life Chances
The Adult Literacy Trust, or ALT, provides adults the opportunity to break the cycle of exclusion and poor literacy by providing personalised support in basic reading skills, delivered through a network of trained volunteers. Through one-to-one support, and as a complement to teaching in formal settings, the charity is dedicated to ensuring that individuals who wish to improve their literacy skills receive the help they need to become successful readers, and to increase their life chances.
When adults improve their ability to read, it better prepares them to live out their roles in the community as parents, workers and citizens. It can have a profound and lasting impact on their ability to function successfully within society, by improving their ability to find and retain decent-paying jobs, actively engage in community activities, and help make better informed decisions that can ensure healthy lives.
ALT’s mission is to recruit and train volunteer Reading Coaches who can provide support to adults in reading, targeting the staggering number of adults in the UK who have very poor literacy, lacking basic skills beyond primary school level or less.
The organisation works with a range of education providers, such as Further Education Colleges and Institutes for Adult Learning, to work with adult learners who can benefit from reading tuition. We recruit volunteers from local communities in which we work, before training and matching them to adults in need of life-changing support – improving employability, health and wellbeing outcomes.
Our Reading Coaches are developing constructive relationships with learners, focusing on individual needs. They work with adults outside of the classroom to help to check learners’ understanding, and to build their confidence in reading. Volunteers also lead small groups of learners in informal group sessions, working collectively to focus on developing the ability to navigate everyday literacy challenges, to boost confidence, as well as foster an overall appreciation for reading.
We recruit, DBS check, and train local volunteers to provide structured one-to-one reading support. We work with staff at our teaching partners to carefully match reading pairs based on learning style, background and individual needs. Each group of learners and volunteers works together over a minimum period of six months, and ideally over a full academic year.
Reading Coaches was developed in consultation with leading adult literacy experts, alongside potential volunteers and, critically, adult learners from the communities in which we work, and who continue to inform enhancements to our programme. We have also built a network of specialist stakeholders involved in adult learning, who are assisting in the regular review and design of our programme.