We are situated in East Gateshead which is an area of high deprivation - poor health, low educational achievement, low literacy and high unemployment Together with several other local organisations and charities we are doing our part to try to improve the situation and help to give people more hope for a better life.
According to the National Literacy Trust, children born into communities with the most serious literacy challenges have some of the lowest life expectancies in England.
We also note that whereas they may have enjoyed books when they were in primary school, children often show very little interest in books or reading once they reach their teens. If there are no books at home, they become something that is only associated with school, and are therefore rejected. If their parents cannot or do not read, they are even less likely to get into the habit of reading and this has a detremental effect on all aspects of their education.
Judging by the low literacy levels of many people entering the prison system, it seems essential to find ways of keeping young people interested in reading. The first and most obvious way is to get books into people's homes through whatever means we can, whether this is offering free books to parents and children at school, asking the food-banks to offer books we donate as well as food, putting bookshelves in the waiting areas at health centres or giving free books at local fairs and festivals. Let us know if you have more ideas (and time to help).