The Cascade Health & Learning Hub is OPEN!

Doncaster-based charity, The Cascade Foundation, has officially opened the doors of its new premises – The Cascade Health & Learning Hub on Marshgate in Doncaster town centre.

Over 70 people, including MP Rosie Winterton, attended the launch event on Friday 14th July to hear all about how the charity will be supporting local people with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia or dyspraxia and those affected by head injuries, to gain valuable qualifications and return to employment.

Guest speakers, including Ken Lewis OBE, Victoria Blakeman, formerly advisor to NATO, the UN, USA and UK on prisons and deputy governor at HMP Chelmsford, John Biggin OBE, director of HMP Doncaster and Lee Parkinson from Efficiency North, talked about the numerous positive effects the charity has delivered so far and why they support its work. They were also joined by ex-prisoners who told their own stories of how their lives were transformed by the charity and its founder, Jackie Hewitt-Main.

Phil, a former inmate at HMP Chelmsford, spoke about how he left the prison with numerous qualifications and started his own property repairs and maintenance business for social landlords.

Dale Easter who spent over 22 years in and out of prison after discovering he was dyslexic in his early 20s explained how Jackie, his ‘Angel’, taught him to read and write, two skills which have changed his life. Dale, who has now been out of prison for three years, is now a volunteer with the charity and is focused on helping others achieve their potential.

Finally, Michael, a University graduate who ‘got in the with wrong crowd’ and ended up in HMP Doncaster shortly after he passed his finals, told guests how his whole attitude to life changed when he starting working alongside Jackie to help his fellow inmates learn to read and write using The Cascade Foundation’s sensory learning methods.

Explains Jackie: “It’s taken us two years to get to this point so this launch event marks a key milestone in the charity’s history. The event gave us the perfect opportunity to showcase exactly what The Cascade Foundation has achieved and what we want to achieve in the future.

“It was fantastic to speak to so many people who clearly share our vision of transforming the lives of those with learning difficulties. We have so many plans and so many people to help so the more people that know about what we’re doing the better. If everyone tells just one person about The Cascade Foundation, then the word will spread and we will attain our aspiration of becoming a national charity with a presence in every prison and community in the UK.”

Concludes Dame Rosie Winterton, MP for Doncaster Central: “I know that Jackie and the Cascade Foundation do important work in supporting people who have learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, or who may have had a head injury, to progress into employment and learning, making a real difference to their lives, and I was delighted to be at the launch of the Cascade Health & Learning Hub to show my support for the work that they and their volunteers do.”

Dyslexic ex-prisoner gets on his bike to raise funds

A former prisoner affected by dyslexia is setting out on a 50 mile bike ride on Saturday 15th July to raise funds for the award-winning charity which helped him to transform his life.

40 year-old Dale Easter has been in and out of prison throughout his adult life for theft and drugs as a result of being homeless. Diagnosed with dyslexia aged 22, Dale’s mother passed away just four weeks later and there was no one around to help Dale to understand his disability. As a result, he also lost his children, all contact with his family and felt the world had given up on him.

Education had always been a problem for Dale due to his dyslexia and he repeatedly tried to get help within the prison system. As an example of how his complete lack of education had affected his life he was unable to read the prison food menu. At meal times he simply gave a random number between 1 and 5, with absolutely no idea what food he would be given. He often ended up with something he disliked but asking for help to read something as simple as a menu would have been embarrassing and shameful to him and so his life became a series of poor choices.

Dale’s life changed forever when Jackie Hewitt-Main founder of The Cascade Foundation was brought into the prison by director, John Biggin OBE, specifically to help men with learning difficulties.

Jackie sat with Dale and explained about multisensory teaching and how it had helped her cope with her dyslexia. She and her ex-offender teacher, Colin, went on to help Dale every step of the way and after over two decades he learnt to read and write in a way that worked best for him.

Before joining The Cascade Foundation’s programme, Dale did not know his alphabet. Within six weeks he had learnt it all. He was able to read and write a few words and soon he was even able, with help, to write a letter to John Biggin to thank him for allowing Jackie and The Cascade Foundation into the prison.

Explains Dale: “I’d been waiting 20 years for something like this to come along, for somebody to help me learn. Jackie was that person. She is my angel. She helped me to change my life forever.

“I know from my own personal experiences that there are many thousands of people out there like me which is why I decided to organise a 50 mile bike ride to raise funds for The Cascade Foundation and help even more people.”

Concludes Jackie: “Dale is such an inspiration to everyone who meets him. He is so full of energy and positivity you can’t help but be buoyed by his enthusiasm. He is a prime example of what can be achieved through the work we do and we wish him every success with his bike ride!”