Wednesday Webinar: The Power of Reading in Prison, with Angela Cairns, former CEO of Shannon Trust

Home > Wednesday Webinar: The Power of Reading in Prison, with Angela Cairns, former CEO of Shannon Trust

15 July 2020

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Over the lock down period The Prisoner Learning Alliance has been running its Wednesday Webinar series in which inspirational people, passionate about making a difference in the field of Prison Learning, are invited to discuss to their work and take questions from the listeners. 

Listen to the first Webinar of the series with Angela Cairns here.

In this Wednesday Webinar Angela Cairns reflects upon her time as CEO of  Shannon Trust, a charity delivering vital literacy education to those in prison in the UK. She speaks with Professor Tom Schuller, chair of the Prisoner Learning Alliance, about challenges related to delivering prison education and the importance of amplifying prisoner voices.

The conversation focuses on the power of reading and the difficulties being unable to read can create, particularly for those in prison. Angela outlines how illiteracy can restrict personal agency, describing the case of one prisoner who had no choice but to eat the same meal each night as he was unable to read the menu.

Angela makes clear the extent of the problem in prisons across the UK but explains what Shannon Trust has done to tackle this, particularly through the successful “Turning Pages” programme which is used to teach vital reading skills to prison learners and has been replicated across the world.

Angela also discusses The Prisoner Learning Alliance outlining how it allows communication between those working towards improving prisoner education and how it works to amplify prisoner voices. Angela also speaks about valuing her own time spent in prisons and the lessons she has learnt from those who have lived experience of the criminal justice system. She outlines how prison learners have shaped the work of Shannon Trust, and aspects of her own life, as she moves forward into the next steps of her career.

During her time as CEO of the Shannon Trust, Angela was also a member of the PLA’s Steering Committee. We would like to thank Angela for her hard work and commitment during this time and wish Angela all the best for the future.

Check out the Prisoner Learning Alliance SoundCloud for more Wednesday Webinars.

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