Above - Megan, with Mark Harper MP, spreading the word at a recent Careers Fair.
Kris at a photo call (above) organised by the Forest of Dean District Council to
bring together some of the recipients of the community grants.
Talking Books Project
FRED was recently awarded a £500 community grant from the Forest of Dean District
Council. This money is being used to fund a project working with Forest Talk to record
our current stock of readers which will enable our learners to practise their reading
skills at home.
USBs have been bought and the recording sessions have begun with several of our reading
coaches giving up their time to help. More recording sessions are planned and there
are also plans to produce workbooks to go alongside the recorded books.
Above - Sheila with other recipients of money donated by Severn Dean Lions to several
local charities. FRED Management Team member Ann Kent is also there representing
another charity - very busy lady!
From the Gloucester Citizen
25th February 2015
Right said FRED – who’s reading?
It’s not something that is talked about often but many adults find reading difficult,
for whatever reason. This can have a negative effect on personal relationships,
job prospects and in so many other ways. Imagine not being able to read your child
a bedtime story or not being able to read the instructions on medication prescribed
by the doctor.
Help is at hand
FRED – Forest Read Easy Deal – is an award-winning local charity that provides free,
confidential, one-to-one coaching for adults throughout the Forest of Dean. FRED
matches learners with trained coaches and typically they meet for two thirty minute
sessions each week at a time and place that suit them both. Lessons are confidential
so anyone can learn comfortably at their own pace.
And FRED is free.
Do you know an adult in the Forest of Dean who would like to improve their reading?
If so tell them about FRED.
You can find out more on the website forestreadeasydeal.org.uk or send an email to
The mobile number is 07746 371353
Extension Training Session
This took place recently in Cinderford and was an opportunity for coaches and prospective coaches to share their experiences. There was a lovely atmosphere in the room as coaches chatted and discussed ways to develop their coaching skills and worked together on ideas for activities to support reading.
Kris also gave an update on FRED’s current projects and plans for the future.
Katrina’s home-made cake added to a very enjoyable and productive morning!
On the left: Bill Gayler and Jon Beales from Forest Talk who have provided the equipment
Above: volunteers Steph, Fiona, Pleas and Ruby about to start the recordings.
Above: Sheila and Janet with Waitrose staff receiving a large cheque (!) for £185
raised from the company’s Community Matters green token scheme.
Yorkley Community Centre
FRED was pleased to be part of the official opening of the new Yorkley Community Centre on 18th April. Hundreds of people turned out to admire the brand new centre which includes a large main hall., a room for smaller meetings as well as an office and kitchen.
The FRED stall attracted a lot of interest and several people were keen to attend the next coach training. Many leaflets were given out which hopefully will encourage new learners to come forward.
It’s great to have a new venue available for our 1:1 pairs and we also hope to use it for the training of our new reading coaches.
Ann and Kris at the Coleford Busking Festival
Above: Kris, Vron and Jennifer
“Kris and I had a good day yesterday at the Busking Festival. Quite a lot of interest from would-be volunteers and learners!
It was a great venue, the day flew past the music was good to great and the sun shone and Jennifer, bless her heart turned up with a flask of coffee.
All in all a really good FRED experience!”
If you have any events you would like to publicise
Development Training and Tea Party
Kris recently ran a very successful Development Training session at the Forest Community Church, where 10 reading coaches worked in small groups to create some activities to go alongside our audio books.
After a lively and productive couple of hours, afternoon tea was served as a thank you to all concerned. The sun shone and it was a lovely way to end the afternoon, chatting and enjoying the delicious home-made cakes!
The latest additional training session focused on getting started with writing -
considering some of the skills involved and the resources available. It was a lively
session and the coaches enjoyed sharing experiences and working together on the group
One of the handouts was a writing checklist which helps to identify the skills with
which a learner feels confident and which ones require more practice.
The Tea Party after the training session also went well – the weather was once again
on our side and it gave everyone a chance to relax and chat in pleasant surroundings.
New Coach Training Session November 2016
A successful training day for 10 new reading coaches was held recently at the Town
House in Coleford.
Additional Training Session
The recent reading coach meeting was really well attended by newly trained and more
experienced coaches. Coaches shared their experiences in small groups and we heard
some great stories about learner success. There was also a 'hands on' activity on
how to get the best from these resources. The Q & A session enabled coaches to discuss
various challenges and to come up with some solutions. One of the main things which
came out of the discussions is how diverse our learners are!
Evaluations suggested coaches would have liked more time looking at resources, so
we'll run another session in a couple of months.
After the training session, more coaches and some of the management team joined us
for tea and cakes. Chair, Roger Deeks, then led a short AGM.
Kris talked about our proposed launch of FRED+ which we hope will broaden our offer
to a wider group of learners. Willing coaches will work with learners on extended
reading activities tailored to each individual. Early writing skills will also be
available. We are planning to revamp our existing publicity material and shared a
draft copy of our leaflet to gauge opinion. Feedback was generally positive so watch
Janet, our Treasurer outlined the financial position and reported on a number of
grants received from local organisations. There have been constant financial pressures
on FRED, many of which have been alleviated by the voluntary efforts of coaches and
Roger outlined statistics and evidence demonstrating the continuing need for FRED.
The Trustees’ responsibilities were outlined and three were elected. The Chair invited
anyone who was interested in being a Trustee, supporting the work of the committee,
or who had a question about governance to contact Jennifer (Secretary) or Roger (Chair).
Roger thanked the Committee, made up of Kris, Sheila, Megan, Janet, Ann and Jennifer
for their hard work and commitment over the last year. Lastly the coaches, who volunteer
so much time, were thanked as without their support FRED would not be possible.
Additional Training and AGM
13th March 2017
FRED PLUS LAUNCH
The ‘launch event’ at Forest Community Church on Tuesday 3rd October 2017 was really
well attended and made the local press - see below. FRED PLUS is our response to
increasing demand to include extended reading activities and early writing skills.
Our Chair, Roger Deeks opened the event and Kris, our trainer, gave a brief overview
of the rationale for FRED Plus and what it will offer for current and potential learners.
Lady Bathurst then officially launched FRED Plus. She has held a lifelong interest
in adult literacy work and has supported literacy development in prison education.
One of our learners, Sabrina, gave a brief talk about her book The White Giant, which
she has written and published with the help of her coach Katrina.
Below are some newspaper articles about Sabrina and the launch along with an editorial.
ADDITIONAL TRAINING SESSION
1st November 2017 - held at Forest Community Church
The purpose of the session was:
To share ideas and experiences
To use Language Experience and sight words to support learners
To talk about FRED Plus – what you need to move your learners on to writing
24th September 2018 - held at Forest Community Church
This was a very well attended session which concentrated on choosing and using resources
to support Turning Pages. The workshop offered a range of activities and ideas for
effective use of the Reading Books that accompany the manuals. The coaches had a
chance to look at other graded reading books and activity sheets to consider how
they complement the Turning Pages programme.
Since the beginning of the year Kris has run 3 training sessions. The first one was
for trained coaches in March at the Forest Community Church. This concentrated on
the Turning Pages scheme, discussing the things coaches have found useful and any
challenges they have encountered along the way. As always the coaches appreciated
the opportunity to discuss issues amongst themselves and to look more closely at
some of our resources.
In May, there was an initial training course for new coaches,held at the Town House
in Coleford. Ten potential volunteers attended and one of our reading coaches, Anne
Holt, came along to talk about her FRED experience which I think everyone found very
The latest additional training session was in September when we combined it with
our AGM. Andrew Taylor, a well -known local author, was invited along for a Q&A
session about what reading has meant to him. It was a trip down memory lane for
some of us as he talked about his early reading of 'Janet and John’ and the Noddy
books! A lovely spread was provided by committee members Jennifer and Janet.
Ian Storrar, President of Royal Forest of Dean Rotary and his colleague John Freeman
attended and were thanked by Roger for their kind donation of £500.
The training session followed the AGM and there were small group discussions on challenges
and achievements as well as how to use the learners’ own experiences to create resources.
The feedback on the session was very positive and there were some good sound bites
which we can use for publicity purposes!
JULY 2020: HOW ONE OF OUR COACHES ADAPTED TO COVID 19 RESTRICTIONS
'Where there's a will there's a way!'
Anne Holt had been meeting with her learner for over a year when lockdown happened
and their weekly face to face meetings had to stop. Anne had a good relationship
with her learner who was keen to carry on developing her reading and writing skills.
" We agreed to keep in touch with weekly phone calls and carry on working as best
we could. Initially working on the exercises in the Turning Pages manual was successful
as we both had a copy. However, what was missing was our shared/supported reading
of books as we did not have the more than one copy of any book.
This is when I started recording passages from a book onto a simple voice recorder,
then passing the book and recording to my learner for her to use independently. She
used it in a variety of ways listening then reading along and also trying to read
the words before I said them. It gave her independence in practising her reading
whilst giving her confidence in reading words she was unsure of and a sense of achievement.
It also corrected any misconceptions of words so that the correct version was always
We also found it useful for recording pages in the Talking Pages manual as we had
reached a stage where the words were more difficult for her to work out and although
I could help over the phone, the recording gave added reinforcement when she was
practising on her own."
However we are acutely aware of the reduced employment opportunities, especially
for people who have difficulty with reading and we have been planning an expansion
of our offer to enrol new learners so we can help more residents become fluent readers/overcome
The restrictions imposed by COVID19 challenge us to provide a safe working environment
and we need additional resources to help more people. We need more learning materials,
coaches and training in new ways of working, as well as PPE. Training will also need
to include ways we can take advantage of technology to compensate for the reduced
face to face working.
We are delighted to announce that we have received generous support from the West
Dean Parish Council who have approved our application for a Community Grant to help
new learners. This means we not only have funds to provide additional equipment/training
for our current working pairs but will also be able to offer a safe, high quality,
confidential service for new learners.
FRED is committed to supporting and engaging learners in the Forest of Dean who want
to improve their reading and writing skills but COVID19 has presented a huge challenge.
Our primary concern has been to find ways of supporting our current learner/coach
pairs, so they can continue working safely without their regular face to face meetings.
AUGUST 2020: PLANNING FOR A POST LOCKDOWN FUTURE WITH THE HELP OF THE WEST DEAN PARISH