An Evaluation of a Pilot Study of a Literature-Based Intervention with Women in Prison

This study, carried out by the Centre for Research into Reading, Information and Linguistic Systems (CRILS) at the University of Liverpool, investigated the effect of Shared Reading on women in HMP Low Newton.

Four significant areas of improved well-being were found:

Social Well-being

The group encouraged greater integration of women on the Personality Disorder wing, providing a sense of support and an increase in personal confidence. The group enhanced social and communication skills, promoted respect for others’ views and tolerance of conflict of disagreement.

Emotional / Psychological Well-being

The group provided ‘disciplined relaxation’ – structured activity which acted as an escape from personal worries through absorption in the literature. The voluntary nature of the group meant that women felt motivated and committed to attending regularly and encourage strong mental and emotional engagement.

Educational Well-being

The group attracted women with a range of abilities, particularly helping those who lacked literacy skills, but also attracting high achievers for whom there is often little provision in prisons.

Organisational Well-being

Staff had their expectation of prisoners challenged by the demonstrable commitment and motivation to attend the groups, as well as members’ willingness to tackle ‘difficult’ books.

Robertson, J. and Billington, J. (2013)

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