Reading for Recovery

Perth, Scotland

Challenge team: Culture Perth and Kinross Libraries and Her Majesty’s Prison, Perth

Summary: This prison library in Perth, Scotland is working closely with local cultural organisations and prisoners themselves to improve prisoners’ literacy and life skills.

His Majesty’s Prison in Perth is a category A (maximum security) prison in central Scotland. The prison’s library and librarian supports the prison’s rehabilitation hub, which helps prisoners to address addiction and deprivation issues. 

Together with Culture Perth and Kinross, a charitable trust managing libraries and Perth Museum and Art Gallery, the prison library is developing a new pilot Reading for Recovery initiative with prisoners to help tackle some of the complex needs of the prison community.

By providing resources and workshops from educators, facilitators and creatives, the challenge team is working together with prisoners to improve their wellbeing and help them to reintegrate into society. The goal is to help tackle some of the inequalities and lack of literacy skills often stemming from negative experiences within early learning settings and exacerbated by economic disadvantage.

Drawing on direct feedback gathered from prisoners who use the library, the Recovery Hub Officer has built a popular Reading Group activity into the prison’s weekly diary of activities. The initiative has featured regularly on the prison’s radio and Reading Group members themselves are acting as advocates for the Reading Challenge, with new participants signing up daily. Each participant receives the gift of a dictionary.

The challenge team is also planning to set up a satellite Skills Hub that will double up as a venue for speakers, offering a completely unique library-coordinated community offer.

The challenge team said: “Our programme will have a positive impact on prisoners’ wellbeing, improving relationships with peers, families and when accessing other agencies and services upon release.”

Local solutions to change Europe

Website by HOAX Amsterdam