As well as awarding the Man Booker Prize for Fiction & the Man Booker International Prize, the Booker Prize Foundation also works to promote the art of literature for the public benefit through schemes and projects that encourage reading of high quality contemporary fiction. These include initiatives with libraries and universities, the Royal Society of Literature, the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and the Life Stories sound archive at the British Library. This new partnership with PRG complements its funding of the ‘Books Unlocked’ programme run by the National Literacy Trust.
PRG promotes the spread of reading groups in prisons and provides funding and support for those who run them. The project began in 1999 and now works with over forty-five groups in more than thirty prisons. The groups have a range of target readers: experience or emergent; young offenders or older prisoners; vulnerable prisoners or those with mental health issues. All groups are voluntary and encourage reading for pleasure. Members choose what they read and new copies of the books are provided for them to keep or pass on to family or others on the wing.
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Chair of the Booker Prize Foundation, says ‘Good books can transform lives; the Booker Prize Foundation is delighted to support the impressive work of PRG in creating opportunities for those in prison to experience that transformation’.
Sarah Turvey, Director of PRG, is delighted. ‘The partnership with the Booker Prize Foundation is brilliant news and heartening confirmation of our shared commitment to what books can do behind bars. In the words of one reading group member: “I have learned from my experiences in prison but gained a new life in books, all thanks to our book club”.’