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The Growth Of Awareness Of Adult Illiteracy In Britain

(d)STUDENT Y (for their confidentiality, students are not identified)

A West Indian man, in his mid-30s, married with young children.  He works in a vehicle maintenance depot. Average to above average intelligence.

Q.When did you decide to seek help with literacy?  Why did you come to Rathbone?

A.About five years ago, I had a dream that told me I must learn to read and write.  I did try when I first came to Britain in 1960, but it was a class, just like at school, and I couldn't get on with the lessons, so I quit.  Anyhow, about five years ago - one Easter Sunday evening, I knew I had to do something about it.  So I went to find a friend but ended up at a church and saw the minister.  Being Easter, he couldn't do anything then, so I went back and on the following Thursday, I met Mrs. Zonena (Gladys), Then she was at Blackfriars, so I started there.  We talked and she gave me a sight test and I found her very understanding.

Anyway, I went to Blackfriars until 1974, when Gladys and Philip started Rathbone Clubs, I went to the Minet Library at first and I still do go there.  To start with I went three nights a week.  Now I go to the Minet once and to Jeffreys once a week too.

Q.How much reading and writing could you do when you first met Gladys?

A.I could just write my name that's all.  Now, I can read and write my name and address, and when you gave me your address on the phone, I was able to take it down, and find the place.  At work  I can read the product names and tools.

C.Do your mates and your employer know of your handicap?

A,Well perhaps some do.  I've never told them.  And now I can do a bit, they don’t notice.  Perhaps when I can really manage, they’ll think I was always able to read and write.


You’ve made a lot of progress over the years, Y, I know.  Do you enjoy Rathbone classes?

A.Sure, I like the club; it's not like those classes I went to fifteen years ago.  Even the others who are handicapped are nice to talk to.  I enjoy the coffee break and going to the pub afterwards and the parties sometimes.  It lets me talk to people I wouldn’t otherwise know.  The only problem I see is the lack of volunteers, Some nights I can work with someone and really do a lot.  Then I don’t have anyone next time and I can't make progress with what I’ve done.  It's due to a lack or volunteers I suppose.  And I do know it’s important for the ones who aren’t as well on as I am to always have a teacher.  But it doesn’t matter to me too much,

Q.Do you do any homework, practice at home in the evenings?

A.No, I like to rest my brain, and relax.  I look at the paper and now I can fill in-the forms and that connected with the house.

© Amity Reading Clubs and Betty Cooper 1978 to 2002 Page 37 of 51

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