Dyslexia Action Lifeline


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Dyslexia Action

Former Eastenders actress Kara Tointon presents an appeal on behalf of Dyslexia Action, a charity that provides tuition and training for people with dyslexia.


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Publicly, I'm known as an actress and performer

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but, privately, I'm one of the six million people

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born with dyslexia in the UK.

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I found school life difficult, at times.

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I remember running after my dad in the mornings, in tears,

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when he dropped me at the school gate.

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It wasn't just the reading and the writing I suffered with,

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but my self-confidence was extremely low.

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But I then got diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of seven,

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which meant from that moment on, I got the help, the support I needed

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and if I hadn't, I know it would have held me back.

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Ben also found it hard to learn to read and write.

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Ben didn't really cope at all when he started school.

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He was very tearful and really found school a challenge.

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A really terrifying place, I think, for him.

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I couldn't read hardly, couldn't write,

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I just didn't know what was happening.

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And I gave up on myself, really, I thought, "I can't do it, really."

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He was very distressed and whenever you asked him,

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"What did you to today, that you enjoyed?"

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he'd say, "I came home."

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At seven years old, Ben was diagnosed with dyslexia

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but he continued to struggle in class.

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Sometimes I felt that I was stupid

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because my friends would be doing much better than me.

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He walked looking at the ground,

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he was a sad little boy, there was a shadow over him.

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A rain cloud of not being able to read and write.

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My experience with dyslexia

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has led me to get involved with Dyslexia Action,

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a charity dedicated to empowering everyone affected by dyslexia

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and literacy difficulties,

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giving children and adults all the help and support they need.

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When Gavin was growing up, his undiagnosed dyslexia

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plagued his entire school life.

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Coming home, getting homework, I used to, like, cry a lot

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because I knew I couldn't do it.

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The writing part, the spelling part, that was like a nightmare,

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your worstest fear that you could ever have.

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I just knew that I couldn't cope, just something I just didn't get.

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I couldn't read words.

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The teachers were saying, "Oh, Gavin, you can do it, maybe next time,"

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and I'm, like, "Help me, please, please help me."

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Gavin's dyslexia was finally recognised at the age of 14

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and he was granted additional lessons.

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Gavin managed to get eight GCSEs...

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..but his hopes of a further education at college

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were soon crushed.

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I was told that I was going to get support for the two years I was there

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but I only got it for six months.

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The funding ran out so I just gave up.

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Feeling angry and rejected, Gavin started to lose his way.

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I started smoking, hanging around with the wrong crowd.

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I was close to almost going to prison,

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hanging around with those type of people.

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Fortunately, this is just the type of situation

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that Dyslexia Action can help with.

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With early identification and the right kind of help,

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the charity believes that dyslexia needn't be a barrier

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to achievement or success.

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So they offer support to people of all ages who have dyslexia

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through their 26 centres across the UK.

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Kevin Geeson is head of the charity and is dyslexic himself.

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Dyslexia Action is about removing the barriers

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for people with dyslexia.

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And one of the best ways of doing that is by giving them

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the kind of specialist tuition that we offer here at the centre.

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"Asked."

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What's making the "t" sound?

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Two letters.

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'It's not about being stupid or lazy...'

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You know, I know you know it!

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'..it's just about our brains working'

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differently to everybody else's

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and processing information in a different way.

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At this centre, in North London,

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specially trained teachers provide one-to-one tuition.

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The skills we're trying to help people to develop here

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are reading, writing, spelling, organisational skills,

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and building their working memory.

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Each individual is given a tailor-made learning programme.

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See how quickly you can match the letters to the picture cards.

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The specialised teaching

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helps them develop the basic skills that they need

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but also it helps them develop their self-confidence,

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in order that they have the opportunity

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to maximise their potential and thrive in today's world.

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Ben's family discovered Dyslexia Action when he was eight years old

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and he started to attend regular lessons with a personal teacher.

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When I went to Dyslexia Action I felt happy

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and my problems would go away for that hour

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because all you focused on was yourself and the teacher.

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She supported him in her lovely, gentle, caring way

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and she taught him EXACTLY the way he needed to be taught,

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and, within a year, he was completely literate.

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When I went back to school from Dyslexia Action,

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I felt that I'd made enormous progress

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and my work would just get better and better and better.

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It was fantastic to see the progress that Ben made.

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He has gone from strength to strength.

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She really did change his life and she made him a very happy young man.

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He's gone from being that very quiet little boy who was afraid

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to being a normal 13-year-old boy

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who is very popular and has lots of friends,

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and he doesn't tidy his bedroom enough!

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And he's coping really well with school, and enjoying life.

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He's living it to the full.

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Dyslexia Action was also there for Gavin,

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when they paired him up with one of their teachers, Margaret Rooms.

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So I went to Margaret Rooms at the age of 26 to get some help,

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to help me to become a London black cab driver.

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When I failed my first exam, I got kind of nervous.

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I failed my second one

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and she started to show me some things that I could do.

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So if I found a name of a building that I couldn't read,

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I'd use it as an association, like she told me.

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So I made up songs, nursery rhymes, stories, I rapped some of them.

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It made me realise that anything's possible.

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Finally, three years later,

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Gavin passed his exams to qualify as a London taxi driver.

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When I got my badge,

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it was the best feeling that I ever had in my life,

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knowing I wasn't never a waste, that I had a gift,

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I had something to offer.

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Since becoming a father,

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Gavin's learnt that his daughter has dyslexia

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but, thankfully, Dyslexia Action are now helping her too.

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So I can say, "Thank you very much," to Dyslexia Action

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for helping me and my children

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because it's helped me to be a better son,

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a better brother, a better father to my family

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and that's all I've ever wanted to be, so thank you very much.

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Dyslexia Action knows that specialist tuition

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for those with dyslexia really does change lives

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but currently they are unable to address the needs of everyone

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who comes to them for support.

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With your help, they can.

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Please, go to the website...

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to donate.

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If you haven't got internet access, then call 0800 011 011.

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And if you can't get through the first time, please,

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please, keep trying.

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You can also donate ten pounds by texting...

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Texts cost ten pounds plus your standard network message charge

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and the whole ten pounds goes to Dyslexia Action.

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Full terms and conditions can be found at bbc.co.uk/lifeline.

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Telephone calls are free from most landlines.

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Some networks and mobile operators will charge for these calls.

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Or, if you'd like to post a donation,

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please, make your cheque payable to Dyslexia Action

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and send it to Freepost, BBC Lifeline Appeal,

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writing, "Dyslexia Action," on the back of the envelope.

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And if you want the charity to claim Gift Aid on your donation,

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please include an e-mail or postal address

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so that they can send you a Gift Aid form. Thank you.

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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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Former Eastenders actress and Strictly Come Dancing winner, Kara Tointon presents an appeal on behalf of Dyslexia Action, a charity that provides specialised tuition, support and training to ensure that people living with dyslexia have the best chance of reaching their full potential in life. As a dyslexic herself, this is a charity close to Kara's heart.

The film features Gavin, a 34 year old dad of two who spent many of his school years frustrated and angry as he could barely read or write, and ended up dropping out of his studies. Having experienced some difficult times, where he struggled to keep his life on track, Gavin shares his experience of finding Dyslexia Action and the difference that the charity has made to him and to his family's future.