The youth programme co-ordinator for Northamptonshire County County’s library service has been named a Literacy Hero.
Literacy Heroes is a new initiative by the National Literacy Trust in celebration of their 20th year of working to improve literacy skills. Launched earlier this year, the National Literacy Trust was looking for people who have overcome problems with reading and writing, or helped inspire other people to improve their literacy skills.
Ruth Gasson was one of just 10 people honoured by the trust and has been recognised for her efforts to overcome her own issues with dyslexia and the work she has done to improve literacy in children and young people. She joined the library service in 2010 when she became youth librarian for Northamptonshire and since that time she has lead numerous projects and initiatives, with a particular focus on working with Excluded or Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) young people to engage them with literacy through spoken word and by using her own life experience.
Her work has included setting up creative writing groups, running workshops with children and young people in schools and libraries to engage them with literacy and creating the young adult arts groups model, where libraries recruit volunteers with an arts background to run regular groups for young people.
Earlier this year, Ruth successfully applied for Arts Council funding to work with Northampton writer Alan Moore, who shares her own experience of having been excluded from school, on a project to engage young people from Northamptonshire who are not in mainstream education. The money is being used to create the Alan Moore Anti-Scholarships and aims to develop sustainable working relationships between libraries, the local arts community and educational organisations to allow these young people to obtain an Arts Award qualification and possibly go on to undertake creative apprenticeships.
Deputy leader and cabinet member for customers and communities Cllr Heather Smith said: “I would like to send my huge congratulations to Ruth for this very special recognition of everything she has achieved so far to improve the literacy of children and young people in Northamptonshire.
“This is a very well-deserved honour and fantastic news for both Ruth and the county as a whole - engaging children and young people with reading and writing in this way is so important, helping them to develop vital skills and experiences that they can use throughout their lives.”