Recent statistics shows that literacy is a significant issue in UK prisons: 60% of prisoners have difficulties with basic literacy skills, half the male prison population was excluded from school and 20-30% of the prison population has learning difficulties.
In an attempt to support prisoners and young offenders to become avid readers, author Stephen Kelman has visited prisons in Lewes and Brixton to encourage prisoners to read. The visits have been organised by the National Literacy Trust in partnership with the Booker Prize Foundation, which is building on its history of celebrating the best in contemporary literature by increasing disadvantaged communities’ access to high-quality writing. You can view a short film of one of the visits below.
Stephen Kelman’s Pigeon English, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2011, tells the story of a young boy on an inner-city council estate. It was selected as the focus for the visits because it may have resonance with many prisoners.