The Learners


I always wanted to be a nurse but I had to go into hairdressing instead.  When my children asked me to read to them I looked at the pictures and made stories up off the top of my head.  But when they started asking why my story was different to the one their Nan read, I realised that I had to learn for them.
When I heard about this group of volunteers I thought for a long time before I plucked up the courage to contact them.  I’m so glad I did as now I can read a bedtime story to my children and help them with their homework.

Ryan was 19 years old when his employer put him in touch with FRED.  He had completed his education at mainstream schools: primary, secondary and then two years at college, but was still unable to read at the end of it.  He told me that he believed that he couldn't read and had developed strategies to hide this from his teachers.

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Sabrina was 35 years old and a mother of four when she first started with FRED.  She was taking her children to school one day when she got talking to a friend who mentioned FRED.

At first Sabrina thought Fred was a man until the friend passed on a leaflet to her the following day with details of the Forest Read Easy Deal.  It then took her 3 weeks to summon up the courage to contact someone.


On the right: Sabrina with her reading coach Katrina.


I was surprised how much I enjoyed it.  My reading coach was good fun and very patient.  I would certainly recommend FRED to anyone who finds reading difficult.  FRED Learner aged 70

 Some Learner Comments


My reading has really improved.  I am now reading with my daughter when she brings books home from school.  I never thought I would be able to do that.

FRED Learner aged 25


It was very helpful to start learning to read from the beginning.  

FRED Learner aged 45


I had tried to read before but having one-to-one help really made a difference.  

FRED Learner aged 56

My son’s pre-school asked me to go in and read a story to the children and I had to make an excuse so I knew I needed help.  I feel so much more confident now and am already reading to my son at home.  
FRED Learner aged 30

I feel more confident now and am able to use my mobile phone to pick up texts  from my boss  at work.  I also get help with my reading from work colleagues in between my FRED sessions which has really helped.  
FRED Learner aged 19


I haven’t been getting help from FRED for long but my coach is very encouraging and I already feel more positive about my reading. I have been putting on the  subtitles when I’m watching telly and try to pick out some words.....just wish they stayed on there longer!

FRED Learner aged 54


I’m getting there slowly and making progress.  It is helping me a lot and I feel a lot better in myself - more confident.

FRED Learner aged 35

I considered myself to be at the bottom of the evolutionary ladder and thought I was useless. I have more confidence than ever before and wish FRED had been available years ago.  At school I just shut off and closed down from learning. I am now more rounded as a person. I am always trying to encourage other people to come along and get help from FRED.
FRED Learner aged 45

I was very nervous when I went to my first session but I soon felt comfortable and liked the venue where we met.  I was able to borrow books from the library and could take worksheets home to do which gave me practice in between sessions.
FRED Learner aged 21

I was really pleased to be able to read a proper book.  I am much more confident in reading online and try to read notices and other things when I’m walking around.   For the first time I was able to read labels on Christmas presents which was great.
I am also writing impressive text messages now!
FRED Learner aged 38



When Gill first started working with Tommy, she decided to go back to basics, as although he had done a course at college he was still struggling with his reading and spelling.


They have been working together for almost a year now and Gill says he has come on leaps and bounds. He still finds some words difficult but the improvement is massive and he has worked really hard.  The encouragement he gets at home has made a huge difference.  


He now has more confidence to use his new found skills and recently sent Gill a letter thanking her for helping him. He  also sent her a postcard, whilst on holiday, which was a lovely surprise.


On the left is Tommy with his certificate for completing the Yes We Can Read book.






Carol always found her school days a struggle.  She had a job cleaning in a school and started a reading and writing course at Gloucester College, but, because she could not see the board, she dropped out. Being unable to read restricted her life, whether reading a menu, choosing a birthday card or selecting food in the supermarket.  “When I got a prescription from the doctor I wouldn’t get it filled because I couldn’t read the instructions and didn’t want to ask,” says Carol. When asked to fill out a form at the Job Centre, a member of staff noticed Carol’s difficulties and arranged for FRED to get in touch with her.

Her coach encouraged Carol to visit the optician and this was a turning point.  Follow-up care and a new pair of glasses mean that Carol is now able to tackle even difficult words as her confidence has grown.

A milestone for Carol was when she went out for a family meal and for the first time was able to order from the menu, to the delight and surprise of those she is closest to.

Carol is delighted with her growing confidence, she asks people for help when she needs it and recommends the FRED scheme to others.






When I started working with Simon, I was really keen to be able to read to my little boy and I also needed help to cope with paperwork for my job. Simon has been very encouraging and I feel I’ve made a lot of progress, in fact I’ve just achieved a certificate which I’m very happy about!



I was brought up in Ireland.  I didn’t do very well in school.  In those days, if you were finding something a bit difficult they didn’t bother with you very much, so you just sat at the back and let things go over your head.


In 1974 I came over to London.  I helped someone out with his newspaper kiosk and eventually took it over myself and ran it successfully for about 10 years.  During this time I taught myself to read pretty well.  (I had a lot of material on hand!)  But I was still no good at writing or spelling.  




I am dyslexic and have been working with my reading coach for several months.  I now have much more confidence and Sally has encouraged me to take on some voluntary work which I am really enjoying. I have also just achieved an English qualification at college and plan to continue with my education.

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