Barry C has been taking literacy classes for over two years now, whilst also looking for work. When he first started the course, he struggled to write even basic words, using a mixture of upper and lower case letters, and often mixing up letters completely. He did not understand any links between the phonetic sounds of letters and how this related to the spelling of words. He thought that the only way to spell or read a word was to 'just know it'.


Despite making progress on the course with understanding upper and lowercase letters, as well as memorising some simple words, he was unable to find employment. The Job Centre put him forward for a number of job roles but, each time in interview, when it came to light that Barry could not read, he was told that he would not be suitable for the job roles. An example of this was when he was very excited to have been offered an interview for a postal company to sort through the packages but, when he reached the interview and told them he could not read, they immediately rejected him from the job role as he would not have been able to read what was written on the packages. The student felt very embarrassed about this.


A few months later, Barry was finally offered a cleaning job at a local bar/club. He very proudly told the class he would be leaving the course as he had at last found work. However, during his first week on the job, whilst cleaning the toilets, the student realised he could not read the names on the bottles of the cleaning products he had been given. He ended up using completely the wrong cleaning chemical on the mirrors of the club, which resulted in him being let go from the position.


He returned to the course a week later and relayed this story, feeling very disappointed and dejected. After this instance, he began to try much harder on the course and started making great progress. He finally seemed to realise why reading and understand the sounds of the letters to recognise words was so important. Over the next few months, he started to use the phonetic sounds he had been taught to figure out simple words by himself, as well as start to structure basic sentences on his own. He can now write a basic sentence and figure out or have an educated guess at simple words.


This fantastic progress was finally rewarded recently when Barry was accepted for a part time job at a local nursing home. His job will involve helping the residents and managing a plan of which residents are in which rooms. He said that he was able to read the names of the different rooms on the list he was given by the nursing home, which then enabled him to take the job. He had some trial shifts at the nursing home which all went perfectly, including his noting of which residents were in which rooms. His commitment to improving his literacy has enabled him to finally accept a job and meet all the criteria through using his reading skills.