Lisa Banks from Kilkenny stars in major new RTE campaign

Supporting people with difficulty reading, writing, maths or technology to get the help they need

Sean Keane


Sean Keane


Kilkenny Kilkenny Kilkenny

Lisa Banks from Kilkenny

Lisa Banks from Kilkenny is featuring in a major new RTE campaign this January called ‘Take the first step’. 

Fronted by Joe Duffy, Brenda Donohue and Marty Morrissey the Take the first step campaign aims to support people in Ireland who have difficulty with reading, writing, maths or technology to get the help they need. 

For years Lisa managed to get by without being able to read or write very well. She worked with children with special needs and pre-school children and she really loved it. At home, her husband did most of their children’s homework with them. He would also look after filling in any forms so not many people knew how bad her education was.

It was only when Lisa and her husband moved their family to Kilkenny from Dublin that she decided to return to education. She found the experience difficult at first. “Going back to adult education was a bit up and down for me at the start. It was a friend that asked me to do a course at Word Aid (KCETB). She said it was a good opportunity to meet new people and make friends as we had just moved to the area,” she said.

It wasn’t long before Lisa grew to love going to classes. “The course was two mornings a week and I learned more and more as time went by. We drank lots of tea and I realised that I enjoyed this whole learning thing! I have since received several certificates at Levels 2, 3 and 4 in a wide range of modules including nutrition and personal and interpersonal skills. I was also one of the first people in Word Aid in Kilkenny to complete a Level 3 course in computer literacy.”

Lisa says that she is a much more confident person since returning to education. Last year, she jumped at the chance to join NALA’s student subcommittee. “I was delighted with the opportunity to represent Kilkenny learners and to speak on behalf of all learners’ rights and needs. Going back to education has done so much for me. It has helped me see what I want to do in the future. I’d love to go to college to become an adult literacy tutor or I’d like to work in a Youthreach centre,” she said.

Lisa first got involved in the campaign when the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) asked her to share her story last September on social media. Since then RTE has partnered with NALA to promote Lisa’s and other real-life stories of students on RTE television, radio and online.  The campaign aims to encourage adults who have difficulty with reading, writing, maths or technology to contact a Freephone support line 1800 20 20 65 to get the help they need. Once they make contact the National Adult Literacy Agency will put them in contact with their local ETB Adult Education Centre or tell them about other free services that will meet their needs.


“We are delighted that RTÉ are supporting ‘Take the first step’ as the campaign represents a very important public service message. Often people who return to education say the hardest part was making the first call or taking the first step into an Adult Education Centre. The aim of this campaign is to encourage people to take the first step to get the help they need. Thanks to Lisa sharing her story so honestly through this campaign, many people won’t feel as alone and I have no doubt they will be encouraged to pick up the phone to us to get information about different courses to suit their needs – all of which are free,” says Dr Inez Bailey, CEO, NALA.

This includes NALA’s Distance Learning Service where tutors work with people over the phone to improve their reading, writing, maths or technology skills.

In Kilkenny you can contact Word Aid, the Co Kilkenny Adult Learning Scheme is a free confidential service that supports adults with reading, writing, spelling or maths difficulties. Call 056-7763149 or for information on services in Carlow call 059 9135544.

There is also a national Freephone number 1800 20 20 65 and website that people can contact to get more information on adult education services nationally.