By Rachel Hagan
We may take our literacy for granted: quickly glancing at food packets, a text, road signs, book covers, menus and much more. But for some, this is a herculean task and one not often discussed.
But for 7.1 million English adults (16.4%) they cannot read or write and have 'very poor literacy skills', according to The National Literary trust.
But Sandi Toksvig is going to change that for a group of lucky adults. The Write Offs, an empowering and uplifting new two-part series will explore Britain’s staggeringly low adult literacy rates and help a group of adults – aged from 22 to 66 years old – to overcome this huge life skill which has always held them back.
Each of the people on the show has heartwarming personal reasons for wanting to overcome their impediment in life. From the 66-year-old town crier who hopes to one day write a thank you letter to all those who’ve supported him to the young mum who wants to be able to help her kids with their homework. They are all hoping to lift the lid on this stigma.
Over the four-month period, they will get one-to-one tuition and have to complete a number of reading, writing and spelling challenges. The process results in a final test fronted by Sandi and held in front of an audience of family, friends and teachers.
In one task they have to write a shopping list, track down the ingredients in a large supermarket and then prepare a chicken pie using a written recipe. One man managed to correctly choose plain flour and said, "my family are going to be so proud."
Despite some mishaps, they managed to successfully make their pie. Sandi welcomed her "very, very good friend" and Bake Off colleague Prue Leith to try their pies!
Sandi said, "Working on The Write Offs has been one of the great honours of my working life. I have had the extraordinary pleasure of spending time with eight courageous people who have approached their deepest fears with humour and determination.
"Like me, I just know not only will everyone fall in love with them, they will review what they think they know about reading and writing. I believe the ripple effect from these eight will be astonishing."
Rachel is a freelance contributor to woman&home, covering news as well as books, lifestyle and travel. Her byline has also appeared in The Independent, The Financial Times, ELLE Magazine, VICE, Glamour Magazine and others. She loves nothing more than talking with people to share their stories. When she is not writing you will definitely find her nose in a book or magazine, or perhaps training for the next half marathon, practicing yoga or eating in London's best restaurants.
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