Wirral MP hosts event in parliament to raise awareness of adult literacy crisis 

Margaret Greenwood MP has joined forces with well-known media personality Julian Fellowes, Baron Fellowes of West Stafford, to highlight the importance of improving levels of adult literacy. 

The Wirral West MP hosted an event in parliament which was attended by Julian Fellowes, the Oscar-winning creator of Gosford Park and Downtown Abbey and long-time supporter of the cause of better adult literacy, as well as by representatives from organisations including the Adult Literacy Trust, the Workers’ Educational Association, the Learning and Work Institute and the Reading Agency. 

In England, it is estimated that more than seven million adults – about one in six of the adult population – have very poor literacy skills, meaning that although they might be able to understand short, straightforward texts on familiar topics, reading information from unfamiliar sources, or on unfamiliar topics, can cause real problems.  

Margaret Greenwood MP has also tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) in parliament which highlights that the crisis in adult literacy across the UK needs urgent attention if we are to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to reach their potential and if we are to address the economic challenges our country faces. 

The EDM, which can be seen here – https://edm.parliament.uk/early-day-motion/61668 – has been co-sponsored by members of parliament’s Education Select Committee. At the time of writing, it has attracted support from 34 MPs, making it the joint eighth most popular out of 218 EDMs tabled in the current parliamentary session. 

Speaking after the event, Margaret Greenwood MP said. “I was pleased to be able to host this event in parliament to highlight the importance of improving levels of adult literacy, and I am very grateful to Julian Fellowes for lending his support. 

“The National Literacy Trust estimates that one in six adults in England have very poor literacy skills. This is a matter of real concern and a crisis that needs urgent attention. 

“People who struggle to read and write experience disadvantage on a daily basis; they can often be consigned to low paid and insecure work and can be left open to exploitation.  

“They can also face difficulty in accessing housing, social security, health and care services, education, skills, training and job opportunities, supporting their own children’s educational development and in staying in touch with friends and family. 

“We need to ensure that these adults get the support that they need. 

“I call on the government to take steps to tackle the crisis in adult literacy as a matter of urgency.”  

Image: Margaret Greenwood MP (centre) with, from left to right, Chris Butcher (Workers’ Educational Association), Julian Fellowes, Debbie Hicks (Reading Agency), Robert Glick (Adult Literacy Trust) and Alex Stevenson (Learning and Work Institute). 

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