A homeless man who teaches other rough sleepers how to read said society should be ashamed at the number of people with literacy problems.Really? And why is that? Are there not enough opportunities to learn? Are schools not free?
Matt Holgate, 41, has taught nine people under a new scheme run by Westminster council which pairs up illiterate people in hostels with a reading coach - either a fellow resident, a hostel worker or a volunteer.Which came first, though, the homeless chicken or the illiterate egg? Which contributes to which?
The council, which wants to roll out the project across London, said 40 per cent of rough sleepers have literacy problems, making it harder for them to access benefits, housing, employment and training services.
Mr Holgate, who stays at the Salvation Army's Edward Alsop Court hostel in Westminster, said: "We are one of the top five developed countries in the world and it's pretty damn sad we are in this situation."Yes, indeed it is. But the solution is entirely in their hands. There’s nothing for me or anyone else to feel ‘shame’ over, is there?
The council today urged more homeless people to take advantage of the reading scheme and called for more volunteers to join up, as Mayor Boris Johnson encouraged other London local authorities to adopt the programme.Adopting the programme is all very well. But if homeless people aren’t taking advantage of it, that’s to their shame, isn’t it?