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The Growth Of Awareness Of Adult Illiteracy In Britain

Mrs Zonena was reluctant to accept this task, feeling that this was a difficult and delicate category to tackle.  Where the difficulties of the educationally subnormal are compounded by mental illness the work for the volunteer endeavouring to teach literacy is exceedingly strenuous and just as much so for the supervising tutor. However, the club was started in the daytime with a supervising tutor who was additionally trained and experienced as a nurse, as well as being a qualified teacher, then employed at the Somerleyton Adult Training Centre as a teacher of literacy.  The Riggindale Club (now known as Limetrees) has been most successful and has given rise to others in this category.

At this point it is worthy of note that support for the Rathbone Club’s individual approach has been particularly forthcoming from the Lambeth Department of Social Services, especially John Allan, Mental Health Adviser and David Baines, Area Co-ordinator in Clapham, who is also connected with CAVE.  In Greenwich a similar contact exists with Mr Manny Devaux, Assistant Director of Greenwich Social Services and the Day Care Officer, Mr. Dennis Large.

The majority of clubs have developed in Lambeth for various reasons.  A great amount of support has been forthcoming from Amenity Services and from the Cowley Adult Education Institute, which was the first AEI to support a Rathbone Reading Club, However, the development has not been confined to Lambeth.  The club started at St. Saviours Church Hall at Peckham has since moved to much more comfortable premises at the GLC/Southwark Information Centre in Lordship Lane, S.E.22, again at the instigation of Mr Richard Balfe.  This continues to thrive under the aegis of the West Dulwich A.E.I. who give unstinting support and full approval to the club, its methods and results.

Reference has already been made to the need for on-going support for the supervising tutors.  The increase in clubs made the support even more necessary in a more structured fashion.  Not least is the need to reinforce the awareness of volunteers and students that a large, tightly knit organisation lies behind them and “their own” Rathbone Club and supervising tutor.

The first meetings of what has become the Management Committee were ad hoc for the purpose of discussing and producing a leaflet and other publicity material. These were produced and are still in use.  However, it was found that meetings of all the supervising tutors engendered a strong corporate spirit, which is mutually supportive.

This was formalised in September 1976 when the organisers and supervising tutors constituted themselves into a Management Committee.  The constitution was drafted, discussed and forwarded, not only to the local Elfrida Rathbone Committee to which Rathbone Reading Clubs have been affiliated since inception but also to the National- Elfrida Rathbone Society to which the Reading Clubs became affiliated in September 1977.

The growth of administrative work connected with the development of the clubs had proved to be too onerous for Mrs Zonena and Mr Glascoe to handle in addition to their full time occupations.  It was therefore decided to employ paid workers.  In March 1977 Mrs Judith Rose was appointed Co-ordinator with a part time salary paid by A.L.R.A.  This ceases at the end of March 1978.  However, other sources of finance have been found to enable this post to be retained.  In October 1977 a fieldworker was appointed under the Job Creation Programme, by the National Elfrida

© Amity Reading Clubs and Betty Cooper 1978 to 2002 Page 15 of 51

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