AGM held on 19 January 2023 at Yorkley Community Centre
In his report, Team Leader Malcom Vine, highlighted the main achievements and objectives for 2022: recovering from the effects of the pandemic, the help and support given to Ukrainian refugees wanting to improve their reading and writing skills, the expansion of FRED activities into areas that neighbour the Forest (particularly Chepstow) and the need to embrace the opportunities that remote working offers.
He then introduced our guest speaker Andy Seed, a local and successful children’s author. Andy explained why part of the driving force behind his writing was to encourage reluctant young readers to read non-fiction, by drawing them in with humour and pictures. He also stressed the importance of finding topics that interest them, and the wonderful opportunity that libraries provide to do just that. There is more information about his books and poems on his website: https://www.andyseed.com/
Pride of Coleford Awards November 2022
Every year Pride of Coleford awards are given to groups and individuals who give their time and energy to making their town a better place. In November, Nick Penny, town mayor, presented an award to Viv Winter, one of our longstanding reading coaches, for her commitment to FRED.
October 2022 – FRED at the Forest Showcase
Our attendance at the Forest Showcase on October 2nd, was much more successful than last year. Having bright sunshine rather than wind and driving rain made a big difference, and our volunteers did not have to hold the gazebo down or chase after leaflets
We had a lot of interest from potential volunteers, and we were pleased that all of them were comfortable using IT, as remote support is now part of the 1 to 1 coaching we offer. ** We also had a number of offers of help/co-operation, as well as two possible new learners.
It was very apparent that the Forest Showcase attracts visitors from areas well outside the Forest, as we had interest from Yorkshire, Stroud, Chepstow and Hereford. While we are now able to offer remote coaching, we know that for most people, 1 to 1 coaching in-person is preferred, so we encouraged people from outside the area, to contact a local Read Easy UK group, where one is available.
A big thank you to our volunteers who help with the vital role of talking to the general public at various events, whatever the weather.
** Currently, we are seeking someone to help develop the role of ‘IT supporter‘. This role will include setting up IT for our Coaches and Learners and publicising what we do through a wider range of social media platforms.
August 2022- A new Era for FRED +
Covid brought many challenges, including how to continue supporting our Learners when we were not allowed to meet them. Remote support in its various forms was the answer, but it has been a steep learning curve. Now we are looking to the future, building on what we have learnt. This is also an opportunity for the roles of the Team to be reviewed, to ensure we can continue to offer quality 1 to 1 support in a variety of formats, as people adapt to a more on-line world that makes literacy more important than ever.
Sadly, Roger Deeks who has chaired the Management Team for a number of years, is stepping down so he can spend more time on his other commitments. We are very grateful to him for prompting and guiding us through some turbulent waters. His experienced hand on the helm, has prepared us for moving forward and he will continue to support us in an ancillary role. Malcom Vine, who has had a key role as leader of the contacts team, is taking over as Team Leader.
The Management Team has reviewed and revised the FRED + Constitution to allow for future developments and we are now able to offer reading and writing help beyond the boundary of the Forest. We are delighted to welcome some new blood to the Team to help with promoting FRED + in the new areas. John Izzard is covering Sedbury as well as helping with administration. Nataline Bennet-Coleman is covering Chepstow and is School Liaison Officer. We also have Bevleigh Evans helping with networking.
November 30th: AGM 2021 + “It all began with a Forest”
In early 2020, FRED’s ability to provide 1 to 1 coaching was drastically reduced by Covid 19. Coaches did their best to keep going with their Learners, using phone calls and recordings, but for most, coaching was on hold. We had Team meetings on Zoom and because of continuing restrictions and uncertainty we also held our 2021 AGM on zoom.
Even when restrictions began to lift, 1 to 1 coaching continued to be hampered by the lack of suitable venues plus our Learners’ on-going anxieties and ill-health, and it was agreed that FRED should start exploring additional ways of offering remote support, This included the acquisition of several laptops so we can offer a loan scheme and on-line coaching.
We were delighted to welcome a local author, Cheryl Burman, as a guest at the FRED AGM on zoom. We heard about her journey through life from Australia to the Forest of Dean. It was not until she had taken early retirement and moved to the Forest of Dean that her writing career began. The trigger was the failure of the 2010 Government plan to sell public forests. It gave Cheryl the inspiration to use the event as the framework for a story, which gradually developed into the popular ‘Guardians of the Forest ‘ trilogy.
Since then, writing has taken over her life. She is an enthusiastic member of the Dean Writing Circle, and keen to ensure the next generation of Forest writers, a founder of Dean Scribblers, a small group of volunteers whose aim is to encourage the creative writing spark in young people in our community.
To find out more about Cheryl (Mayo) Burman and her writing see About the author
September 8th 2021: FRED Tea Party – together again at last!
On a glorious late summer day we gathered together again in person for the first time since the start of the Covid pandemic. We started with a short Management Team meeting to review the situation and start planning for a future which is likely to include some remote coaching. The Covid pandemic had been very challenging for our Coaches . Many Coaches had managed to keep in touch with their Learners and used some innovative approaches to provide distance coaching, but it had been an uphill struggle. Most of our Learners have limited digital skills as well as poor literacy skills.
We had arranged a tea party for our Coaches as a thank you for their efforts, and after the meeting, the Team joined the Coaches who were gathering in the sunshine. We were treated to a wonderful spread prepared by Jennifer and other members of the team and were able to sit outside to enjoy our tea and catch up with friends and colleagues.
July 2021: FRED’s 1st Forest Lottery win
The Forest Lottery provides people with an opportunity to give financial support to local good causes and at the same time, gives people a chance win cash prizes up to £25,000. There are also special offers from major suppliers such as B&Q, to encourage more people to use the lottery to benefit small charitable groups. 50% of all receipts goes to the chosen charity, and a further 10% to other Forest causes.
In June 2021, FRED joined the lottery and we had our first win on July 10th! There were 30 winners across the forest and a FRED supporter was one of them. By matching 2 numbers, she won 3 more lottery tickets – 3 more chances to win the Jackpot of £25,000!
To support FRED through the lottery, click on:
July 2020: How one of our Coaches adapted to Covid 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 being reinforced.
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.”
August 2020: Planning for a post lockdown future with the help of West Dean Parish Council
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.
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 reading challenges
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.
Training and AGM 2019
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 useful.
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!
September 2018 :Additional training session
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.
May 2018: Additional training session
Held at Forest Community Church
The aim of the session was to introduce the new Turning Pages Reading Scheme and to give reading coaches an opportunity to explore the manuals and the reading books.
November 2017: Additional Training session
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.
For Earlier News & Events see ‘Archive’