The woman who uses Positive News to help teach adults to read

Lucy Purdy

Jeanette Haigh uses Positive News as a reading aid in adult literacy classes. The uplifting design and content make it a perfect match, she says

When phoning to renew her Positive News subscription, Jeanette Haigh mentioned how she puts her old copies to good use. She helps run a literacy class for adults where she lives in Derbyshire, and uses Positive News to encourage attendees to get to grips with the written word.

“These adults have, through no fault of their own, found themselves in circumstances in their childhoods which meant they didn’t learn to read or write,” says Haigh.

“All the students are a joy to teach. They’re lively, intelligent and have a wide range of skills. There are many reasons why some people cannot access education in early life.”


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Haigh, a retired primary school teacher and grandmother of four, lives in a former mining community in Bolsover. She runs the classes every week during term time, in a room at Bolsover Methodist Church. It is part of the Freedom Community Project, a charity set up in 2008 to support people in the area who are struggling with poverty. Students currently range in age from 16 to 86, and 10 volunteers help run the sessions. Each student is paired with a volunteer tutor, while Haigh plans the work and collects the resources from which students learn.
Difficulties can mean that sometimes a student may not be able to attend for up to six months. “But when they come back? That’s great,” says Haigh.

She said the group particularly liked an article in issue 88 of Positive News magazine, titled: What went right in 2016. “It’s great to be able to use relevant, interesting content that will spark their interest, and debate.

It reminds me that everyone can make a difference, no matter how little

“I first discovered Positive News when I visited my sister on the Isle of Arran four years ago. After reading the daily paper every day, it was just so heartwarming. It reminds me that everyone can make a difference, no matter how little. And I’ve learned that in this group too: sometimes, just a kind word or two can mean so much to somebody.

“Walking into the building here is like stepping into a warm bath. Everyone is totally accepted. People say that when we aren’t here, they miss the laughing coming from our room!”

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