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. See more
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
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.
To read more about Sabrina’s achievements, please go to the News and Events page.
On the right: Sabrina with her reading coach Katrina.
What our learners think about FRED
I had tried to improve my reading skills a couple of times over the years but working
1:1 has been what I needed.
I am getting on well with the new Turning Pages scheme and like the reading books
which go with it.
FRED Learner aged 55
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
I had tried to learn to read a couple of times 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
I couldn’t read at all when I started and thought I was too old to try. However, my coach has been really patient and I have now read lots of books and feel a real sense of achievement. I have even started a basic computer class - you’re never too old! FRED Learner aged 60
I now have a small son and am thrilled to be able to read to him. I feel very proud.
FRED Learner aged 35
My confidence was low when I started working with my reading coach, but now I am working on passing my driving theory test as well as improving my writing skills. I have just written a letter to my uncle in Canada which I have wanted to do for a long time. Very happy! FRED Learner aged 30
My dyslexia problems meant I couldn’t cope in a group situation. Since working 1:1
with my coach, my literacy skills have improved no end and I recently achieved an
English qualification at college which was a massive achievement for me!
FRED Learner aged 32
FRED has opened up a new world for me. I cope better with everyday tasks such as shopping and reading letters from the hospital. I am even able to read phone texts now. My coach has also helped build up my self confidence so that I feel more positive about my life. FRED Learner aged 47
Would I recommend FRED to others? Definitely!
My reading has really improved. I am now reading with my daughter when she brings
books home from school. I never thought I’d be able to do that.
FRED Learner aged 25
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
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
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
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.
When I started working with Les he could only read the odd word or two. He thought
it was too late in life to try and learn to read. We met a couple of times a week
never missing a session and he steadily progressed. His friends began to notice that
he didn't automatically ask them to read something for him because he tried to do
it himself. He is very pleased that he has been able to do it. We continue to meet
regularly and if we look back at the earlier books in the reading scheme he realises
how far he has come and how well he has done.