Thursday, February 18, 1999 Published at 12:16 GMT
Soap stars support reading clinics
The government is promoting the idea of reading for enjoyment
Classes to help adults improve their reading and writing skills have been launched with the help of the stars of the television soap opera Brookside.
More than 800 adult literacy "clinics" are to be set up in schools and libraries across England as part of the government's National Year of Reading initiative.
They will provide free programmes of study to help people who lack confidence in their reading and writing skills.
Brookside is supporting the launch by running a storyline focusing on adult literacy. Viewers will see character Niamh Musgrove confront her own reading difficulties when she is offered the chance of promotion at work.
The Brookside actors were joined at the launch of the "Brookie Basics" classes in west London by the School Standards Minister, Estelle Morris.
"Too many adults have not mastered the basics and need the chance to do so in accessible places where they live, work and spend their leisure time," said Ms Morris.
"It is never too late to learn. By recognising the problem and supporting a network of 'Brookie Basics' clinics, we can help people to recognise that they can learn to read effectively later in life."
The National Year of Reading, launched last autumn by Education Secretary David Blunkett, aims to encourage a greater appreciation and understanding of the written word in all its forms.
The BBC soap opera EastEnders has already featured a storyline focusing on the reading difficulties of Jimmy, a resident of a hostel for the homeless.