Dr Jane Davis: A journey of personal transformation
Once a vulnerable child and school truant, dealing with family problems including alcoholism, literature offered clear spaces, escape routes, truth. I left school with 2 GCSEs but returned to education as a young single mother, working in cafes while completing A Levels before taking up a place to study English Literature at University, gaining a first class degree. Following a PhD I taught for fifteen years in the Department of Continuing Education, and from a small outreach project in Birkenhead, I have led what is now called the ‘Reading Revolution.’
My organisation, The Reader Organisation (TRO), envisages a world in which everyone has access to literature, and in which personal responses to books are freely shared in reading communities in every area of life.
Our mission is to build a Reading Revolution.
Get Into Reading (GIR) is our innovative project that brings people together through weekly read aloud groups, where members can choose to read and are invited to give personal responses. Groups are delivered in a variety of settings across the UK, including: care homes, hospitals, prisons, homeless shelters, schools, libraries, supermarkets and community centres.
GIR has been delivered in Merseyside since 2002 and is now running in London, Manchester, South West England, Glasgow, Belfast and Durham. Over 360 groups engage over 2000 people of all ages each week. We have mainstreamed delivery of GIR in partnership with Local Health Authorities, Library Services, Educational Authorities, Criminal Justice Services, private and third sector organisations.
Over 650 people have completed our unique Read to Lead programme, empowering them to take shared reading into their workplaces and communities.
Since 2008, TRO has more than doubled its income and increased GIR group activity by nearly 300%. Maintaining quality whilst experiencing such significant growth has been of central importance. Whole-staff peer mentoring, internal training and weekly debriefs have kept a focus on quality.
I became an Ashoka Fellow in January 2013, an example of the pursuit of opportunities that will open TRO up to a whole range of extra expertise through mentoring and coaching, and further promote our cause to a new audience.
Dr Jane Davis was a Finalist Women's Social Leadership Awards | Category Social Business Leader 2013