Sharing Stories To Help Us Connect
National charity, The Reader, brings people together on a weekly basis to experience the life-enriching power of literature. They are calling for people across Great Britain to join its Reading Revolution by giving Shared Reading a go.
Shared Reading provides a friendly and welcoming space where people are brought together in small groups, on a weekly basis, to read great stories and poems aloud, while sharing their thoughts and reflections. There's no pressure to read or speak and no prior experience is needed. Groups are drop in and, thanks to funding from People's Postcode Lottery players, they are free of charge.
Participants are free to join in the reading and conversation, or just sit back and listen. The groups are a great way for people to connect – to new literature, to their own thoughts and to each other. Long-lasting friendships are made. Health and wellbeing are improved.
To date, players of People's Postcode Lottery have raised over £2.8 Million to support The Reader in providing this much needed lifeline.
Supporting Men's Mental Health
Thanks to funding from players, this month a new group providing a vital means of social and wellbeing support for men on Merseyside was launched.
The Reach Men's Centre offers a range of services aimed at reducing isolation and improving the mental health of men. Since the pandemic, the Centre has seen a substantial increase in the need for support, with 135 men accessing its counselling and drop-in services over the last year.
The Reader has trained three staff at the Centre to deliver a weekly Shared Reading group. One service user who recently took part in a Shared Reading taster session added, "I found it very interesting. I enjoyed the social side and being able to share views with others."
Meaningful Volunteering Opportunities
As more in person Shared Reading groups like the one with The Reach Centre are able to open, there are also more opportunities to train with The Reader as a Shared Reading volunteer.
One volunteer who leads a Shared Reading group in a care home, remarked, "What I find most satisfying is the circle of sharing. I share the literature with the group and the group members share their time, thoughts, and feelings with one another, and with me. I always take something away from it."
Helen Wilson, The Reader's Head of Shared Reading Programmes, said, "If you're looking for a purposeful and rewarding way to put your time and skills to use then becoming a Reader Leader could be what you need.
"There are lots of benefits to being part of our warm, kind and connected community of Readers, including training, support, and plenty of reading resources. Most importantly of all though, this is an opportunity to make a difference to people's lives."
As life returns to normal post-COVID, there are growing opportunities for people to join a Shared Reading group in person or online, and/or to volunteer with The Reader to make a difference in their own communities.
How You Can Help
The Reader is currently recruiting for volunteers in the North West, South West and London. For more information visit The Reader's website.
Helping Deserving Causes
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