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The Booker Prize Foundation backs Roehampton’s Prison Reading Groups with new partnership

More prisoners will benefit from the work of Prison Reading Groups as a new partnership with The Booker Prize Foundation is developed.

Posted: 16 February 2016

image for news story The Booker Prize Foundation backs Roehampton’s Prison Reading Groups with new partnership
Sarah Turvey, director of the Prison Reading Groups Project.
The partnership between Prison Reading Groups (PRG) and The Booker Prize Foundation means 10 new reading groups will be set up in jails nationwide during the next year. PRG promotes the spread of reading groups in prisons and provides funding and support for those who run them. The project began in 1999 and now supports over 45 groups in more than 30 prisons.

Sarah Turvey, Director of PRG and Principal Lecturer in the Department of English and Creative Writing said: “Reading groups can be an important aid in prisoner rehabilitation. Reading and discussion develops literacy and group skills; it can also extend empathy, encourage critical self-reflection and help prisoners reconnect with both family and the wider culture outside.

“The partnership with the Booker Prize Foundation is wonderful news for PRG and heartening confirmation of our shared commitment to what books can do behind bars. In the words of one reading group member ‘I have learned from my experiences in prison but gained a new life in books, all thanks to our book club’.”

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Chair of the Booker Prize Foundation, said: “Good books can transform lives; The Booker Prize Foundation is delighted to support the impressive work of PRG in creating opportunities for those in prison to experience that transformation.”

PRG groups have a range of target readers:
• Experienced or emergent;
• Young offenders or older prisoners;
• Vulnerable prisoners
• Those with mental health issues.

All groups are voluntary and encourage reading for pleasure. Members choose what they read and new copies of the books are provided for them to keep or pass on to family or others on the wing.

This isn’t the first time the University of Roehampton and The Booker Prize Foundation have worked together to promote and encourage reading. In 2015, Roehampton joined the prize’s higher education initiative which aims to have a university-wide conversation about a single work of literature, in a project called #RoeReads. David Harsent, Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Roehampton has also recently been announced as part of the judging panel for the 2016 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

The Department of English and Creative Writing offers a rich programme of courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, taught by lecturers with international research reputations and a passion for teaching.

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