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Homeless Hostels

Westminster Council uses Yes We Can Read in its hostels for the homeless, using volunteers and homeless people who can read to teach those who can’t. Matt Holgate, a resident in the Westminster Salvation Army Hostel, taught 9 people to read in a year. The first homeless person to complete the course went on to college to do GCSE English and then further exams; and a woman who had previously refused to attend Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous because she could not read the 12 Steps, became a successful member of both organisations. 

In 2011 Westminster City Council won runner up prize in the Andy Ludlow Awards for their work tackling literacy issues among rough sleepers and hostel residents. The literacy toolkit for homelessness organisations sets out the essential elements of the tried and tested, flexible model that they think all homelessness organisations can use and describes the model created in Westminster to support the use of Yes We Can Read. The toolkit can be downloaded here.

Very few adults are unable to read at all. However, for all those on the continuum that ranges from recognising a few words up to being able to read some things, there is an excellent product called Yes We Can Read by Libby Coleman and Nick Ainley that has been tried and tested across a range of homelessness settings.