English PEN

Readers & Writers

We want to create a writing and reading culture in the UK's refugee centres and prisons. Literature has a part to play in community cohesion, integration and rehabilitation. We take literature to some of the most marginalised communities in the UK. We reach 1000 refugees and offenders each year.

history Campaign has now closed

It ran from to

Registered Charity in England and Wales (1125610)




  • Arts/Culture/HeritageArts/Culture/Heritage
  • Community Support & DevelopmentCommunity Support & Development
  • Education/Training/EmploymentEducation/Training/Employment
  • Human Rights/AdvocacyHuman Rights/Advocacy




Literature can help people solve different problems. With our refugees, we are trying to solve a deficit of creative opportunities, but there are also literacy problems (35% of male refugees felt "fluent" in English last year). With offenders, we're trying to solve literacy problems as well as access to arts activities. Literature can help people stop returning to crime.


Literature helps people empathise better, putting themselves in the shoes of someone else. This can be immensely powerful in the multicultural and marginalised communities we are working with. As well as this, reading and writing enhances literacy and imagination, as well as the ability to think on one's own feet and take control of your own life.