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Innovative project makes menus accessible

A HMP Wakefield project to make everyday written content more accessible won an award from the Chartered Institute of Education.

The Mentoring Research and Development Group, comprising learners from the Yorkshire prison, created ‘easy read’ menus as part of a project to help make writing more accessible for their peers with low level literacy skills and ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) learners.

The end product was a picture-based, colour-coded food menu that was rolled out in areas across HMP Wakefield.

Deputy Education Manager Lindsay Battersby said: “As a group we could see that this project had real benefits and actually helped people to have a choice. The group itself was created to help peer mentors develop projects in their own community, as well as improving their research and analytical skills.

The menu project has been developed by prisoners, for prisoners, and widened the scope of outreach work to all areas of the prison, so involving this wider community is why it has been so successful.

Following the roll-out of the menu, the project was presented at the Prisoners’ Education Trust Symposium this summer. It was well received by attendees, who described it as “a real relevant and thoughtful project, well designed and including all the right people to make sure it has the desired effect.”

Attendees at the symposium also said that “anything that decreases anxiety in a strange place is crucial, so the menu project is an excellent example of what can be achieved and that induction must reflect the needs of the prisoner, not the regime.”

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