About us

NEW Independent report evaluates the impact of The Cascade Foundation in Doncaster Prison.  Download it FREE.  See how closely we compare to the principles of Desistance Theory. FREE to Download 

Rebecca, J, Andrew + Lord A at charity launch 2013Rebecca Harris MP, Jackie Hewitt-Main, Andrew Sheldon and Lord Addington at the launch of The Cascade Foundation in the Houses of Parliament, 2013

The Cascade Foundation was inaugurated in May 2013 and launched at the House of Commons, Westminster, with a speech by the Right Hon. Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling MP. We became a registered charity in September 2013. Our registered charity number is 1154017.

Our founder is Jackie Hewitt-Main, our CEO, Project Director and also a Trustee. She inspires and leads a team of passionate employees, volunteers and Trustees.

rt hon Chris Grayling MP at charity launch 2013The Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, Sec. of State for Justice, giving the key speech at our launch event

“It’s always a great pleasure to celebrate a great voluntary contribution to prevent offenders reoffending, to help them turn their lives around, to help them deal with the issues that got them into prison in the first place. This is a really great example of a small project in one prison that has the real potential to grow into something much bigger.

Dyslexia is a forgotten challenge. What you’ve done Jackie is you’ve played a huge role in uncovering the challenge. The work you did in Chelmsford Prison really started a ball that will roll a long way.

We are here today to celebrate your work and to wish you the best. It’s clear you have already made a big difference, and I’ve no doubt you will continue making a difference. Thank you and well done.”

Rt. Hon. Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Justice

Find out how it all began below and click on the links above or here to learn about what we do and who we are, to meet our teams – Patrons, Trustees, Cascade staff team, Cascade Learning Coaches and Cascade Volunteers; to find out where we work and to look at some of our policies and plans.

How it all began

Our Founder’s Story

DBB launch 26 - Jackie in Middle Temple Hall croppedOur Founder, Jackie Hewitt-Main

The Founder of The Cascade Foundation, Jackie Hewitt-Main, herself only diagnosed as severely dyslexic in her forties, was a happy child … until she went to school. With a thirst for learning, she was an enthusiastic pupil on her first day. But she was soon branded as ‘thick’ and a failure. Unable to learn to read and write like the other children, she was sent off to the remedial class where she was expected to colour in and play with beads.

Despite her avid curiosity about the wide world, she became increasingly frustrated that none of her teachers seemed to know how to teach her. At secondary school she self-harmed, developed eating disorders and seriously considered suicide.

Leaving school with no qualifications, she had a succession of jobs, and finally started a sandwich round, which grew into a flourishing catering business. Then she opened a health food shop, which grew into another successful business. But everything changed when one of her teenaged sons suffered major head injuries in a car accident. Written off by the NHS, he was sent home and Jackie abandoned everything to look after him. She visited academics and researched different ways of learning, which she combined into a unique approach to help her son. Despite her own poor literacy skills, she taught him to speak, read and write again.

Once her son was well enough, she took him to college each day to do the exams he had missed at school. There she met a brilliant teacher, Sue Blackburn, who immediately recognised Jackie’s learning difficulties and arranged an assessment for her. This led to a statement of special educational needs (SEN), which diagnosed severe dyslexia, along with dyspraxia, dyscalculia, ADHD and slight Asperger’s syndrome. So, she wasn’t thick after all!

This was the springboard Jackie needed. She went on to study for a degree in SEN (special educational needs) and a PGCE teaching qualification. For her dissertation, Jackie chose to research a sadly neglected area – dyslexia in prisons. From this was born the idea for Jackie’s prison projects and the seed was sown that grew into this charity – The Cascade Foundation.

For Jackie’s more recent profile, see her entries on our trustees and staff team pages.

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