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Publicly, I'm known as an actress and performer
but, privately, I'm one of the six million people
born with dyslexia in the UK.
I found school life difficult, at times.
I remember running after my dad in the mornings, in tears,
when he dropped me at the school gate.
It wasn't just the reading and the writing I suffered with,
but my self-confidence was extremely low.
But I then got diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of seven,
which meant from that moment on, I got the help, the support I needed
and if I hadn't, I know it would have held me back.
Ben also found it hard to learn to read and write.
Ben didn't really cope at all when he started school.
He was very tearful and really found school a challenge.
A really terrifying place, I think, for him.
I couldn't read hardly, couldn't write,
I just didn't know what was happening.
And I gave up on myself, really, I thought, "I can't do it, really."
He was very distressed and whenever you asked him,
"What did you to today, that you enjoyed?"
he'd say, "I came home."
At seven years old, Ben was diagnosed with dyslexia
but he continued to struggle in class.
Sometimes I felt that I was stupid
because my friends would be doing much better than me.
He walked looking at the ground,
he was a sad little boy, there was a shadow over him.
A rain cloud of not being able to read and write.
My experience with dyslexia
has led me to get involved with Dyslexia Action,
a charity dedicated to empowering everyone affected by dyslexia
and literacy difficulties,
giving children and adults all the help and support they need.
When Gavin was growing up, his undiagnosed dyslexia
plagued his entire school life.
Coming home, getting homework, I used to, like, cry a lot
because I knew I couldn't do it.
The writing part, the spelling part, that was like a nightmare,
your worstest fear that you could ever have.
I just knew that I couldn't cope, just something I just didn't get.
I couldn't read words.
The teachers were saying, "Oh, Gavin, you can do it, maybe next time,"
and I'm, like, "Help me, please, please help me."
Gavin's dyslexia was finally recognised at the age of 14
and he was granted additional lessons.
Gavin managed to get eight GCSEs...
..but his hopes of a further education at college
were soon crushed.
I was told that I was going to get support for the two years I was there
but I only got it for six months.
The funding ran out so I just gave up.
Feeling angry and rejected, Gavin started to lose his way.
I started smoking, hanging around with the wrong crowd.
I was close to almost going to prison,
hanging around with those type of people.
Fortunately, this is just the type of situation
that Dyslexia Action can help with.
With early identification and the right kind of help,
the charity believes that dyslexia needn't be a barrier
to achievement or success.
So they offer support to people of all ages who have dyslexia
through their 26 centres across the UK.
Kevin Geeson is head of the charity and is dyslexic himself.
Dyslexia Action is about removing the barriers
for people with dyslexia.
And one of the best ways of doing that is by giving them
the kind of specialist tuition that we offer here at the centre.
What's making the "t" sound?
'It's not about being stupid or lazy...'
You know, I know you know it!
'..it's just about our brains working'
differently to everybody else's
and processing information in a different way.
At this centre, in North London,
specially trained teachers provide one-to-one tuition.
The skills we're trying to help people to develop here
are reading, writing, spelling, organisational skills,
and building their working memory.
Each individual is given a tailor-made learning programme.
See how quickly you can match the letters to the picture cards.
The specialised teaching
helps them develop the basic skills that they need
but also it helps them develop their self-confidence,
in order that they have the opportunity
to maximise their potential and thrive in today's world.
Ben's family discovered Dyslexia Action when he was eight years old
and he started to attend regular lessons with a personal teacher.
When I went to Dyslexia Action I felt happy
and my problems would go away for that hour
because all you focused on was yourself and the teacher.
She supported him in her lovely, gentle, caring way
and she taught him EXACTLY the way he needed to be taught,
and, within a year, he was completely literate.
When I went back to school from Dyslexia Action,
I felt that I'd made enormous progress
and my work would just get better and better and better.
It was fantastic to see the progress that Ben made.
He has gone from strength to strength.
She really did change his life and she made him a very happy young man.
He's gone from being that very quiet little boy who was afraid
to being a normal 13-year-old boy
who is very popular and has lots of friends,
and he doesn't tidy his bedroom enough!
And he's coping really well with school, and enjoying life.
He's living it to the full.
Dyslexia Action was also there for Gavin,
when they paired him up with one of their teachers, Margaret Rooms.
So I went to Margaret Rooms at the age of 26 to get some help,
to help me to become a London black cab driver.
When I failed my first exam, I got kind of nervous.
I failed my second one
and she started to show me some things that I could do.
So if I found a name of a building that I couldn't read,
I'd use it as an association, like she told me.
So I made up songs, nursery rhymes, stories, I rapped some of them.
It made me realise that anything's possible.
Finally, three years later,
Gavin passed his exams to qualify as a London taxi driver.
When I got my badge,
it was the best feeling that I ever had in my life,
knowing I wasn't never a waste, that I had a gift,
I had something to offer.
Since becoming a father,
Gavin's learnt that his daughter has dyslexia
but, thankfully, Dyslexia Action are now helping her too.
So I can say, "Thank you very much," to Dyslexia Action
for helping me and my children
because it's helped me to be a better son,
a better brother, a better father to my family
and that's all I've ever wanted to be, so thank you very much.
Dyslexia Action knows that specialist tuition
for those with dyslexia really does change lives
but currently they are unable to address the needs of everyone
who comes to them for support.
With your help, they can.
Please, go to the website...
If you haven't got internet access, then call 0800 011 011.
And if you can't get through the first time, please,
please, keep trying.
You can also donate ten pounds by texting...
Texts cost ten pounds plus your standard network message charge
and the whole ten pounds goes to Dyslexia Action.
Full terms and conditions can be found at bbc.co.uk/lifeline.
Telephone calls are free from most landlines.
Some networks and mobile operators will charge for these calls.
Or, if you'd like to post a donation,
please, make your cheque payable to Dyslexia Action
and send it to Freepost, BBC Lifeline Appeal,
writing, "Dyslexia Action," on the back of the envelope.
And if you want the charity to claim Gift Aid on your donation,
please include an e-mail or postal address
so that they can send you a Gift Aid form. Thank you.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd