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The Growth Of Awareness Of Adult Illiteracy In Britain



In May 1974 Mrs Zonena and Mr Glascoe felt it was appropriate for them to set up a literacy organisation of their own, following the mode of operation already practised et the Blackfriars Settlement.  Club growth could be effected in a “mushroom fashion, expanding in accordance with identified local needs.  The requirement was that the location of a club should be where both students and volunteers had only short easy journeys and it was envisaged that supervising tutors would be paid and supported by local Adult Education Institutes to which the club would attached.

The first Club was opened in June 1974 at the Minet Library, in Burton Road, SW9, and funding was undertaken by the Cowley A.E.I. in May 1975.  The facilities for this first club were organised by Mrs Jenny Armour, then Special Services Librarian in the Lambeth Borough Amenities Services.  Mrs, Armour had visited the Blackfriars Literacy Scheme and herself suggested that the Minet Library would be a suitable venue for a club.

In addition to the premises, support from the Lambeth Amenity Services included porterage at the library in the evenings, coffee for refreshment, telephone facilities and books from the Special Collection.  This support has continued at all Rathbone Reading Clubs on Borough premises.  The use of these facilities is an example of the way by which the Rathbone Reading Clubs identify and utilise latent community resources.  This benefits the community and makes it more mature, and provides an efficient and economic base for operating the scheme.

In the beginning both Mrs Zonena and Mr Glascoe ran the club at the Minet Library on Wednesday evenings with 17 volunteers and 17 students.  In the autumn of 1974 Mrs Zonena finally left the Blackfriars Literacy Scheme and opened the Minet Library Club on Tuesday and Thursday evenings in addition to the Wednesday club.  A former Blackfriars volunteer joined the Rathbone Clubs and opened at St. Saviours Church Hall, Peckham, SE15.  This tutor was Mrs. Judith Rose now Rathbone Clubs Co-ordinator.

The accommodation at St. Saviours was made available by the vicar, Rev. Hawsey, following an introduction by Desmond Palmer, the local community worker.  Mr. Palmer had met Mrs. Zonena through Richard Balfe a G.L.C. Councillor and a Blackfriars volunteer tutor.  So the ripples of community contact are ever-expanding.  The financial support for this club came from the Frobisher A.E.I. until the club moved to other promises in Lordship Lane, SE22.

A further club was opened in a basement room at the Streatham Pool, in Streatham High Road, S.W.16.  These premises were again obtained through Lambeth Amenity Services.  At first this club was supervised by Brenda Planner yet another ex-volunteer from Blackfriars who joined Mrs. Zonena.  However, shortly afterwards Mrs Planner was seconded to a Social Work course and left.  Mr, Glascoe took over at Streatham Pool and under his supervision the club developed.

As the clubs grew and developed so a clear policy regarding the recruiting of supervising tutors has been established.  It is considered necessary for the supervisors to be professionally qualified or educationally acceptable to the I.I.E.A. as suitable

© Amity Reading Clubs and Betty Cooper 1978 to 2002 Page 13 of 51

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