After almost a decade Shared Reading in Greater Manchester mental health wards, The Reader is rolling out to local communities in Salford

The Reader is looking for people to train to read great literature aloud in their local community – join us for a ‘taster’ on 19 June

Continue reading “After almost a decade Shared Reading in Greater Manchester mental health wards, The Reader is rolling out to local communities in Salford”
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After 20 years building communities through reading aloud together, The Reader marks its next chapter with a new look

National charity The Reader, which has spent more than 20 years bringing people together and books to life, has updated its brand as it prepares to re-open its headquarters in Liverpool’s Calderstones Park following a £5M refurbishment.

The visual identity refresh has been designed by Liverpool studio Kaleidoscope to communicate the warmth and connection of the ‘Reading Revolution’ at the heart of The Reader’s work.

The Reader began life in 1997 as a magazine created by Dr Jane Davis MBE. In 2008, The Reader charity launched, to improve wellbeing, reduce social isolation and build stronger, healthier communities.

Having left school at 16 with two GCSEs, Jane eventually returned to education as a young single mother, and gained a First Class Degree and a PhD from the School of English at the University of Liverpool. Over many years, Jane became aware of how literature’s ability to open up our imaginations and thoughts had been instrumental in helping turn her life around. This inspired her to leave her career as an English lecturer and to set up The Reader, which has pioneered Shared Reading bringing great books, poems and plays to life through reading aloud and group discussion – as a powerful group experience that sparks connection, reflection and discovery.

Through a growing movement of 1,000 volunteers and partners across health, criminal justice and the community, more than 500 Shared Reading groups take place each week in care homes, hospitals, prisons, homeless shelters, libraries and community spaces. The Reader is also the inspiration for an international Reading Revolution that spans countries including Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Germany, Mexico, Sweden, the USA and New Zealand.

A new logo has been created for The Reader Mansion House, which will re-open to the public later this year. The Grade II listed building will be the focal point of The Reader at Calderstones – a warm and vibrant community that will attract visitors from the UK, and around the world, who are looking for new ways to enjoy and experience literature, wellbeing, art, heritage and food.

Jo Spragg, Head of Communications at The Reader, said: “As the vision for The Reader at Calderstones comes to life and the Shared Reading movement continues to grow at home and abroad, we wanted all aspects of our brand to reflect who we are today – a radical and warm organisation with people and literature at our heart.”

“So far we’ve had a positive response on the update from our volunteers, staff, funders and trustees and we’re hoping that visitors to The Reader at Calderstones will be just as receptive. We’re grateful to the players of People’s Postcode Lottery for funding this project.”

The updated identity includes a refined version of The Reader’s previous organisational logo that will help the charity to attract a more age-diverse audience as it looks to make a difference to more lives. The simplified design has been chosen to work better across digital platforms.

Kaleidoscope has also created a family of sub-brands for the existing visitor experiences on offer at The Reader at Calderstones. These range from The Reader Storybarn, an imaginative playspace dedicated to the delights of reading for pleasure in families, to The Reader’s social enterprises, including the Café and Ice Cream Parlour, which generate revenues to support the charity’s work with communities.

James Kirk, Managing Director at Kaleidoscope, said: “Kaleidoscope has always sought out organisations that do great things and whose values we relate to. We have been very fortunate to work with some inspiring people and organisations over the years, but The Reader may be one of the best we have ever worked with. We are proud to have developed the new identity for the organisation and look forward to following their next exciting chapter”.

The Reader is currently rolling out the new identity externally and has plans to update its websites as part of a broader digital project that is set to commence later this month.

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Launching The Reader’s first Shared Reading Community Anthology

More than 1,500 Readers took the time to tell us about their Shared Reading experience during Feedback Week 2019 across community, dementia care homes and mental health support groups.

Across all of these kinds of places, Readers told us that they have made new friends, found new things to think about and that it has changed their week. And we’re delighted to hear that.

Here’s an idea of just how far the Reading Revolution has travelled.

In further comments, Readers said: “I do not feel so alone”, “it has restored my confidence in both myself and others” and “it is an oasis in the week – a constant”.

As part of this effort, 10 Shared Reading groups were chosen to receive a tea party and a printed copy of the new Shared Reading Community Anthology 2019, which you can download for yourself here.

In a letter to them, The Reader’s founder and director Jane Davis said: “Sit. Feast on your life,” quoting Derek Walcott’s Love After Love.

Those winning groups were:

  • Beechcroft Care Home
  • A Category-B Men’s Prison       
  • Croydon Central Library
  • Folkestone Age UK
  • A High-security Prison 
  • HMP Magilligan
  • Kirk Lodge
  • QUBE
  • Woodchurch High Group

Helen Willows, who leads her Shared Reading group at Qube – Oswestry Community Action, said:

“We received our tea party in a box on Saturday and have had it today! We were 7, and everyone appreciated the cake and tea, the anthology and Jane’s lovely letter.

“The pottery we used I ‘inherited’ from my mum, who would have been 94 today. It’s Portmeirion pottery, which raised a lot of memories about walks there, plans to go there over Easter weekend and a discussion of the light and views – and then a general discussion about china and tea services.

“The main message was a feeling of real appreciation by the group members: ‘how KIND of them to think of us!’; ‘it gives me a warm feeling to know that lots of others across the country are also doing this’; ‘what a lovely letter from Jane – how nice of her to do that’.

“And they were DELIGHTED to receive the anthology : ‘look! There’s poems in here that we’ve read in this group’, ‘look – it tells you where the group is that’s contributed that story’.

“In truth it has been a very special afternoon. Full of laughter and memories. Thank you so much. A great afternoon to end just before Easter.”

Pauline McNeil, who leads her Shared Reading group at Beechcroft Retirement Unit Maghull, Merseyside said:

“The group were really delighted to receive the letter from Jane Davies and the wonderful tea party hamper. Our group feasted on the cake, tea, biscuits and the Community Anthology. Food for the body and the spirit!

“The Shared Reading group in an important part of the Beechcroft social scene with an opportunity for members to share great literature, memories and connect in a welcoming environment.

“Beechcroft feel proud to part of the Reading Revolution that is sweeping the country and appreciate the great work of The Reader in bringing uplifting literature to so many people.

“The group enjoyed reading ‘The Voyage’ by Katherine Mansfield, ‘Thaw’ by Edward Thomas and were pleased to receive their own copies of the Community Anthology, which they intend to share with friends and family.

“The short story gave the group much to think about and discuss. The group talked about how their own experiences intersected with the literature. One member had actually travelled to Picton New Zealand and shared her journey with the group. One who had been a Wren in the Royal Navy also had a connection with the prose. The journey of young Fenella also evoked memories for another who recalled travelling to Cappadocia.

“The themes of loss and resilience in the text also brought new things to share in the group. Two members regaled the group with funny stories about how loss was dealt with by neighbouring families in the past.

“Another remembered her grandparents and reflected with the group how dress and practices have changed so much over the years. The flavour hat the different voices give to the story when reading aloud added something special, which the group felt it really helped them to connect with their own thoughts and understand each other better.

“The morning was a celebration of great literature, good company, humour, reflection and a lovely tea party. As one member stated ‘The Shared Reading session is a really good start to our week!’.”

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Shakespeare troupe cycles into Calderstones Park this August

The HandleBards, the world’s first cycling theatre company, will kick-off an exciting programme of possibilities at The Reader Mansion House

Outdoor touring theatre troupe, The HandleBards, will be arriving on two wheels to Liverpool’s Calderstones Park to perform William Shakespeare’s classic comedy Much Ado About Nothing on Saturday 10 August 2019.

The performance is the first in an exciting programme of activities planned by charity, The Reader, as it prepares to open the doors to the Grade II listed Mansion House this summer following a £5M refurbishment project.

Alongside the Storybarn, the Café and the Ice Cream Parlour which are already up and running, the restored Mansion House will be part of The Reader at Calderstones, a warm and vibrant community where anyone can come to experience literature, find and share meaning, be nourished, develop new skills and explore creativity.

In addition to The Handlebards performance, which will take place in the Garden Theatre to the rear of the Mansion House, the opening programme promises to offer something for everyone, with cultural events including literature, art and music. The full programme is set to be announced in June.

Anna Farrell, Head of Calderstones Programme, said: “As we gear up to the opening of The Reader Mansion House this Summer, we’re delighted to reveal the first event in our exciting season of activities, all held together by a golden thread of literature.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming as many people as possible from the local area, the region and beyond, for what promises to be an unmissable show.”

The HandleBards, the world’s first cycling theatre company, perform most of their shows by pedaling from venue to venue, with all the set, props and costume necessary to perform Shakespeare. The all-male troupe’s production will be filled with mayhem, debauchery and cross-dressing a plenty – audiences should expect riotous amounts of energy, chaos and lots of laughter!

The HandleBards’ Paul Moss said: “We’re over the moon to be coming to The Reader at Calderstones to present our outdoor theatre in the park to the lovely people of Liverpool. If you’ve never seen Shakespeare before, there’s no better introduction. If you’re a Bard buff, you’ve never seen it done like this…”

Much Ado About Nothing tells the story of a group of soldiers returning from the war to a household in Messina, kindling new love interests and re-kindling old rivalries. The parallel love stories of Beatrice, Benedick, Claudio and Hero become entangled with plotting, frivolity and melodrama in one of Shakespeare’s most famous comedies.

The performance will have a relaxed atmosphere, with ticket holders invited to bring along their own deck chairs, blankets and cushions. Standard tickets are £16 + booking fee, and a limited number of £12 +bf early bird tickets are available, tickets for under 18s are only £10 +bf while tickets for under 10s are free. To find out more or and book tickets visit www.thereader.org.uk/events

The project to refurbish the Mansion House is supported by Liverpool City Council, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Tudor Trust, AKO Capital, Ravensdale Trust and The Pilkington Charities Fund.

Further details of the ongoing programme of events and activities, supported by The Esmée Fairnbarn Foundation and The National Lottery Community Fund, will be announced in the coming months, follow @Calderstones to keep up-to-date.

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The Reader creates landmark ‘through the gate’ Shared Reading collaboration with Suffolk Libraries and local police funding body

The search is on for volunteers to deliver Shared Reading groups in three of the county’s libraries

The Reader is working with Suffolk Libraries to launch a new kind of Shared Reading Community in Suffolk. It has been created to transform rehabilitation for local people leaving prison, improving wellbeing and building community, through reading aloud together.

For more than a decade, The Reader has been bringing people together to talk, laugh and share great novels, poems and plays in local community spaces, such as care homes and hospitals, as well as prisons.

Shared Reading groups are free, open to all, normally last an hour or an hour and a half, and usually run every week. Late last year, The Reader hit a major milestone with the news that it is now supporting 500 groups to happen across the UK every single week.

This year-long ‘through the gate’ pilot will see six volunteers trained to lead new Shared Reading groups in three Suffolk Libraries, with 30 local people benefitting from reading aloud together each week.

For this project, the Suffolk Community Foundation has allocated funds from the Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, to help people leaving prison develop better relationships with themselves and others, improving their rehabilitation and supporting the Commissioner’s objective to reduce re-offending.

Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore said: “I am very pleased to be able to allocate funds from the PCC fund to support the rehabilitation of offenders through this innovative project.”

He added: “I had the opportunity to visit Warren Hill prison recently to see at first-hand the difference that this project is making. I’m pleased to see the additional funding from my office will enable them to further develop the project in Suffolk.”

Andrea Pittock, Head of Grant Programmes, Suffolk Community Foundation said: “In addition to inviting people supported by community rehabilitation services in Suffolk to join the groups, we also hope that local residents will be inspired to attend and experience the joy of reading aloud together.

“Shared Reading creates meaningful time for self-development and self-expression, and offers a chance to meet new people, both of which are an important means of building resilient communities.”

Suffolk Libraries is an independent and charitable organisation that runs the county’s 44 libraries. Sarah Lungley, Suffolk Libraries Mental Health and Wellbeing Coordinator, said: “Our libraries are welcoming and non-judgemental spaces that have been the focus for many innovative and positive community projects in recent years.

“We know the positive effects Shared Reading can have on wellbeing and we’re thrilled to be working with The Reader on such a great opportunity to provide something beneficial during what is a difficult period of transition for many people.

“We already work closely with the prison service to provide a library service in the county’s three prisons and have seen how reading can make a difference to people’s lives.”

The Reader has worked in the criminal justice system for over a decade, and today supports Shared Reading in more than 40 prisons and probation hostels across the UK.

“The Reader has been reading with offenders since 2009, and we know from research done into this work that it helps them feel more safe and confident in themselves, helps them relate better to other people, and helps them think more about the future,” said Jane Davis, founder and director of The Reader. “You don’t have to consider yourself ‘a reader’ to join in – many people come along to our groups just to listen.

“We know both national and local decision-makers are increasingly trying to build better collaborations to make the transition from prison to the community better – and we believe Shared Reading has a role to play in that.

“We’d like to thank the Suffolk Community Foundation, which administers funds for the Police and Crime Commissioner, and Suffolk Libraries, for enabling us to make this transformational project happen.”

Anyone wishing to register interest in training to become a volunteer, joining a group. or partnering in this community collaboration should contact The Reader’s local lead: Heidi Hollis on heidihollis@thereader.org.uk.

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The Reader announces new patrons

Claire Skinner and Paul Sinton-Hewitt back the reading revolution as charity prepares to launch new community health model

The Reader has welcomed two new advocates to its family of patrons. BAFTA-nominated actor, Claire Skinner, and parkrun founder, Paul Sinton-Hewitt CBE, are both active supporters of the charity’s mission to bring about a reading revolution so that everyone can experience and enjoy great literature.

The new patrons join a list of high profile figures from the world of arts and culture who are already ambassadors for The Reader, including Frank Cottrell Boyce, Blake Morrison, Maxine Peake, Lemn Sissay and Jeanette Winterson.

Speaking at a Reader event in London, star of BBC television series Outnumbered, Claire said: “As loneliness becomes a growing social issue, we need more activities like Shared Reading that bring people from all walks of life together to talk, laugh and share.

“The energy in the room when a group of people share and discuss a great novel, poem or play aloud together is powerful and life-affirming. It clearly makes a difference to people’s lives and I’m delighted to lend my support if it will encourage more people to find their local Shared Reading group and try it for themselves.”

Parkrun founder, Paul Sinton-Hewitt CBE, is the first Reader Patron to be recruited from outside of the arts and culture sector. His experience of creating a community-based movement, led by volunteers is – along with Girlguiding and Scouting – one of the inspirations for The Reader’s volunteer-led approach to growing Shared Reading. There are now over 1,000 volunteers throughout the UK who deliver weekly groups in libraries and community venues every week.

Sinton-Hewitt said: “There are obvious synergies between what parkrun has achieved and The Reader’s ambitions for Shared Reading, and both organisations share a belief in how people power can build a strong sense of community.

“Bringing people together to engage in meaningful activity – whether that’s running a timed 5K or reading George Eliot – has physical and mental health benefits, and creates volunteering opportunities for people who want to do something for their local community. It’s for these reasons I’m excited to lend my expertise to The Reader’s campaign to make Shared Reading part of the fabric of life.”

The Reader is currently preparing to launch a new social model of community health at its headquarters in one of Liverpool’s most beautiful parks.

The Reader at Calderstones will have literature, wellbeing, art, heritage, food and fun at its heart, making it the first community of its kind in the UK and the world.

Jane Davis, founder and director at The Reader, said: “Having the support of Claire and Paul – along with our established patrons – means a great deal to us, particularly as we gear up for the opening of The Reader at Calderstones.

“On behalf of all Readers, I’d like to thank them for their interest in our work which helps to shine a light on the impact that literature can have on lives, and to galvanise wider support for the reading revolution.”

To find out more about volunteering opportunities at The Reader, visit: https://www.thereader.org.uk/volunteer

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Neolithic Calder Stones return to Liverpool Park

Ancient monoliths preserved for future generations in a new home at the heart of Calderstones Park

The Calder Stones, which are among the UK’s oldest and most significant monuments, have today returned to the North West following specialist conservation work in London. Overseen by national charity, The Reader, the Stones are now set to be installed in a purpose-built heritage facility that will open to the public in summer.

The new heritage centre is being developed as part of an extensive refurbishment project to bring the Mansion House in Calderstones Park back to life, thanks to the support of several funders. including a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of just under £1.9million. When it opens its doors later this year, The Reader Mansion House will be a place where people from all walks of life can find connection through literature, heritage, art, wellbeing activities, food and fun.

The Stones’ new home will evoke the tomb they were once part of and protect them from the elements. The carefully designed space will be accessible to the public seven days a week and give visitors of all ages an opportunity to see the Stones up close and learn about their history and conservation.

At around 5000 years old, a similar age to Stonehenge, the Calder Stones provide evidence of the earliest known permanent settlement in the area. Originally part of a megalithic tomb, their recent history has involved a number of moves.

In 1845, they were arranged in a stone circle by Joseph Need Walker, the then-Calderstones estate owner, in 1954 they were moved from the Park’s entrance on Menlove Avenue to protect them from weathering and vandalism and in 1964 they were placed in the Harthill Vestibule greenhouse, which unfortunately accelerated their deterioration due to the rapid changes in temperature and humidity. Their removal last September and today’s reinstallation was carried out by experts Orbis Conservation with the full permission and oversight of Historic England and with Scheduled Ancient Monument Consent.

The Reader’s Calderstones and Heritage Development Manager, George Hawkins said: “We’re thrilled to welcome the Calder Stones back home and we can’t wait for our visitors see them in all their glory. Across the country our Shared Reading groups create lively, connected communities by bringing people together and books to life. In the same way, the Calder Stones have brought people together throughout the ages and we’re excited to be able to share their story and protect them for future generations.”

Nathan Lee, Head of the National Lottery Heritage Fund North West, said: “We’re excited to see this stage of the National Lottery Heritage Fund restoration project at Calderstones Park complete, and the Stones moved back to their original position. We know this is an important milestone for the many community volunteers that have been involved in the project so far, and look forward to the many events to come as the Mansion House is also restored to its former glory.”

North West residents who are interested in finding out more about volunteering opportunities at The Reader at Calderstones when it opens later this year are invited to attend volunteer information events on Wednesday 13 and Saturday 16 March from 2.30pm to 4pm at The Reader Ice Cream Parlour in Calderstones Park.

For more information and details of the roles including heritage guide and DIY and arts and wellbeing volunteers visit www.thereader.org.uk/events or call 0151 729 2200.

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Lincolnshire volunteer wins share of £46,000 to train six new Shared Reading group leaders

Thriving Boston Shared Reading community led by dedicated volunteer gets opportunity to build a reading revolution with more volunteers reading aloud

The Reader has launched a call for new volunteers to read aloud together in the Lincolnshire community thanks to the hard work of local volunteer organiser, Jenni Robbs.

Boston currently has two Shared Reading groups, one in the Cotton Chapel at St.Botolph’s Church (Boston Stump), which has been running for a year, and one at Boston Library, which is coming up to its fourth anniversary. 

Jenni has won a share of £46,000 of Big Give donations made to The Reader, which will be used to train six new Reader Leaders to launch and lead Shared Reading groups in her local community.

Alongside this new call for community volunteers, HMP North Sea Camp is launching the county’s first Shared Reading group in the criminal justice system in February.

The Reader has worked in the criminal justice system for over a decade, and today supports Shared Reading in more than 40 prisons and probation hostels. Jenni has been working to roll out an opportunity for local migrant workers to join Shared Reading groups, in order to help build local connections.

Leaving problems at the door

One longstanding Boston group member said: “For me, Shared Reading is the time to leave problems, worries and illness for an hour or so and just be ‘me’.  For people who lack friendship, these groups may be of even greater importance.

“When I first joined, I was concerned about reading aloud as I had not done this for so long. You can say you prefer to listen and there are no questions asked, but everything is so relaxed that I am happy to read without even thinking about it.

“I find it uplifting to concentrate solely on a text, and old or new poems. Debate is fun and I have gained so much confidence in myself and read a lot more now, all initiated by my involvement in the group, which I hope will continue for many years to come.

“I would never have sought out or had any idea that Shared Reading existed and may well have missed out. I hope that more groups are available to more and more people in the future.”

Adam Kelk, Head Verger for The Parish of Boston, said:  “We are delighted that St Botolph’s has been able to host Shared Reading sessions. Shared Reading is a brilliant way for people to come together and share fellowship with each other.

“We are glad the group is going from strength to strength and we will support it however we can in the future. At St Botolph’s, we are community minded and are willing to help in any way which can help enhance our town, this group is part of our community.”

Community service

Alison Wade from GLL, a social enterprise that runs the local library, said: “The Shared Reading group, which has been meeting at Boston Library for nearly four years, provides a very important service to the community. That’s not only by encouraging a love of reading of all types of literature, but also fulfilling a vital social role by offering an opportunity for local people to meet up to share their thoughts and interests.”

Jane Davis, founder and director of The Reader, said: “We’re so very grateful to everyone who donated to our Big Give campaign, enabling us to do more of what matters in London, Liverpool and, now, Lincolnshire.

“It’s volunteers like Jenni that are creating the future of The Reader, we’re delighted at the thought of more community groups in Lincolnshire. Well done.”

Late last year, The Reader hit a major milestone with the news that it is now supporting 500 Shared Reading groups to happen across the UK every single week.

If you would like to register your interest in training to become a Reader Leader, find out how to join a group, or would like to become involved as a partner in this community collaboration, email volunteer@thereader.org.uk.

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Outnumbered star Claire Skinner lends her voice to the campaign for reading aloud together

Actor joins The Reader on stage at historic Toynbee Hall to help make the call for a Reading Revolution in 2019

 Local people urged to make Shared Reading ‘the thing’ they do this year – as NHS 10-year plan brings focus to staying healthy and ageing well

National charity, The Reader, is using the New Year to make a call for people across London to join the ‘Reading Revolution’.

Actor Claire Skinner will join The Reader’s founder Jane Davis and local Readers at an event on Thursday 17 January to read aloud something that says ‘revolution’ to her at the historic anti-poverty charity Toynbee Hall. The public are invited to lend their support too.

For more than a decade, The Reader has been reading aloud in prisons, care homes and the community. Research from the University of Liverpool has shown that Shared Reading groups can improve wellbeing, reduce social isolation and build stronger communities.

With almost 100 Shared Reading groups in London – in Barnet, Croydon, Hammersmith and Fulham, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton and Barnes, and Kensington and Chelsea – The Reader has thriving hubs across the capital led by dedicated volunteers committed to improving people’s lives through this highly impactful practice.

Claire Skinner said: “This is the time of year when many of us are looking to try something new or make improvements to our health and wellbeing, and getting together to share in the joy of a great novel or poem is a way for all of us – regardless of age, background or life situation – to feel positive. If you’ve not tried it before, make 2019 the year you give it a go!”

“The new NHS strategy highlights the need for people to stay healthy and age well,” said The Reader’s founder and director Jane Davis.

“At The Reader, we believe a reading revolution that helps people come together, around great literature, to talk, laugh and share is a simple way to prevent people falling into crisis, or help them out when they can’t see a way forward. We’re thankful for our army of volunteers who help us do just that – and we urge those that can to think about joining us in London, whether as advocates, volunteers or supporters.”

Suvi Dogra, who runs her weekly Shared Reading group in West London, explained: “Group members often tell me how much they love being a part of something that gives them a sense of belonging, no matter where they come from. Reading aloud and reading together shows the power of communication and language, while unraveling the mysteries of literature. Watching this self-discovery unfold in my readers is where true magic dwells, making it the most rewarding experience of my life.”

Last year, The Reader hit a major milestone with the news that it is now supporting 500 Shared Reading groups across the UK every single week. With support from players of the People’s Postcode Lottery and others, more than 1,000 volunteers now read in prisons, care homes and community spaces.

Groups are free and open to all, normally last an hour or an hour and a half, and run every week in local community spaces. As one local group member said: “The reading groups are a different kind of medicine and it’s through them that I’ve found a way back to life”.

Everyone who leads a Shared Reading group experiences The Reader’s transformative Read to Lead training and can go on to start new groups in places like sheltered housing or care homes.

To get involved with The Reader, email: volunteer@thereader.org.uk.

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Birkenhead will host UK’s first community Shared Reading Space

Home of The Reader’s first Shared Reading group, launched over a decade ago, now hosts the charity’s next innovation for creating a reading revolution

 Local people urged to make Shared Reading ‘the thing’ they do in 2019 – particularly as NHS 10-year plan focuses on staying healthy and ageing well

The Reader, a national charity founded in Birkenhead, is using the New Year to launch its latest innovation – a new Shared Reading Space at Birkenhead Central Library opening on 22 January at 1pm where reading revolutionaries can create supportive communities around great literature. Sign up to attend here.

Wirral is the oldest Shared Reading Community in the UK, as the place where The Reader’s founder Jane Davis launched her first group more than a decade ago. The new Shared Reading Space launch, in partnership with Wirral Libraries, will also mark the start of the rollout of The Reader’s new brand identity.

Testament to the power of reading aloud together, the area’s Shakespeare Shared Reading Group has been meeting to read and discuss the words of the nation’s favourite playwright every Monday since 2008.

“The most important thing is that people can talk about their own feelings and lives,” explains Alison Walters, who leads the Shakespeare group. “It’s wonderful that the group has formed such a community.

“We do sometimes hear of people thinking they might not like Shakespeare. But it was one of our longstanding Readers who initially said ‘oh I’ll come and give it a try but I’m not really sure I’m going to like it’. They have really embraced it and now even suggest the plays we read next. They’ve also brought a family member along who absolutely loves it too!”

Alison first joined The Reader as part of a community production of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale performed in 2008 in front of 1,500 local people in Birkenhead Park.

Wirral currently has 25 groups running, from Birkenhead to West Kirby. Most are open to the public, while some are specifically for people living with dementia or people in the probation service. Volunteers here are working to open the Shared Reading Space at Birkenhead Central Library on 22 January so Readers, Reader Leaders and keen local people can start to build a revolutionary reading community outside of weekly groups.

As ever, groups are free and open to all, normally last an hour or an hour and a half, and run every week in local community spaces.

Research from the University of Liverpool has shown that Shared Reading groups can improve wellbeing, reduce social isolation and build stronger, more supportive communities. As one local group member said: “The reading groups are a different kind of medicine and it’s through them that I’ve found a way back to life”.

Late last year, The Reader hit a major milestone with the news that it is now supporting 500 Shared Reading groups to happen across the UK every single week. With support from players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, more than 1,000 volunteers now read in prisons, care homes and community spaces, with over 200 of those groups taking place in the North West.

The Reader’s work in Wirral is also backed by Wirral Public Health, which has recently committed to the long term provision of Shared Reading as an essential service for residents. Julie Webster, acting director for public health and wellbeing at Wirral Council, said: “We are constantly looking for opportunities to promote health and wellbeing. I am very pleased that we have developed our relationship with The Reader to promote the power of Shared Reading to local people.

“The feedback we’ve had from residents taking part in Reader sessions is very powerful and goes well beyond attendance at reading groups to feeling more in control of their lives and learning new skills.”

“We know loneliness is now considered an important public health problem by government and the new 10-year NHS strategy emphasises the need to ‘stay healthy’ and ‘age well’” said The Reader’s founder and director Jane Davis.

“At The Reader, we believe a reading revolution that helps people come together, around great literature, to talk, laugh and share is a simple way to create healthy communities. We urge those that can to think about joining or leading a Shared Reading group in Birkenhead, Wirral and beyond.”

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Looked-after children benefit from one-to-one reading thanks to BBC Children in Need

Thanks to continuation funding from BBC Children in Need, national charity The Reader has secured an extension to its Reading Heroes project which stimulates children’s imagination and improves their confidence. More looked-after children across the Liverpool City Region will now have the opportunity to enjoy weekly ‘reading for pleasure’ sessions with a Reader-trained volunteer.

From January 2019, the charity will match children with volunteers for six months of one-to-one sessions, after which the children will be offered an opportunity to join a Shared Reading group in their local community. The Reader’s Shared Reading groups, also led by trained volunteers, bring great books, poems and plays to life through live reading aloud and group discussion.

The Reader’s founder and director Jane Davis said: “We are thrilled that BBC Children in Need has awarded funding for another three years of our Reading Heroes campaign. The need is real, there are nearly 2,500 looked-after-children across the Liverpool City Region, but thanks to the dedication and passion of our brilliant volunteers we are able to make a real difference for the children we read with.

“We know from UNESCO that ‘reading for pleasure is the single most important thing that will make a child successful in life’. This is at the core of all our work, whether it’s our outreach work with families, our immersive sessions in schools or at The Storybarn, our imaginative play space dedicated to sharing the delights of reading.”

Elizabeth Myers, Regional Head North, BBC Children in Need said: “We’re always delighted to award new funding to projects like The Reader in Liverpool. Over the coming months, the project will use the funding to support disadvantaged children and young people in the local community and make a tangible and lasting difference to their lives.”

A local children’s home worker explained: “Sometimes, looked-after young people can have quite a hectic week, with lots of things going on around them. It’s important for children to have some one-to-one time dedicated to relaxing and enjoying an activity with a grown-up, who has time set aside just for them. One-to-one reading is ideal.”

A foster carer in Liverpool said: “Since the Reading Heroes’ first visit, each child has grown in courage and confidence, not to mention enthusiasm and, at times, a healthy level of debate when it comes to who gets to read that particular day! It has complemented what is done at home and at school, and has played a huge part in how much the children have adapted to the changes that have been made in their lives both physically but more so emotionally. It has helped to give them the right to be carefree; a right that every child deserves.”

The Reader is actively calling for volunteers to support the project in the Liverpool, Sefton, Knowsley and St. Helens areas. To get involved visit www.thereader.org.uk/volunteer to register for more information.

ENDS

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Read to Lead: The Reader’s Learning and Quality team return to Uppsala

In 2017, The Reader delivered a training course in Uppsala for twelve librarians working in the city and in nearby Stockholm.  This year, we’ll be returning to the region to work with 18 more participants, including librarians and teachers from adult education associations, who want to bring Shared Reading into their communities.

Following the intense three-day course in Uppsala, participants will go on to lead Shared Reading groups for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds, including refugees, mental health service users, older people, and those who might not otherwise engage with their local library services.

Tom Young, The Reader’s Learning and Quality Leader, who will return to Uppsala later this month to deliver the Read to Lead training, said:

“We’re delighted to be returning to Sweden again this year and to see such enthusiasm for the Reading Revolution thereIt’s always exciting to bring Read to Lead to a new community or a new cohort of trainees and returning to Uppsala feels really special because we’re helping to establish a growing network of Reader Leaders in that region, a Shared Reading community in Sweden.”

The Reader works with partner organisations throughout the world, including Austraila, Belgium and Denmark. We also run regular international Read to Lead training courses at our Calderstones Park headquarters in Liverpool.


International Read to Lead dates for 2019:

Our next International Read to Lead course in January is fully-booked but there are still places available on our September course – the first to be held in the refurbished Calderstones Mansion House which is due to reopen as the International Centre for Shared Reading in Spring 2019.

Tuesday 10 – Thursday 12 September, 9.30am – 4.30pm

If you’d like to know more about our training courses please email: learning@thereader.org.uk

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The Penny Readings returns to St. George’s Hall this Christmas 

Maxine Peake and Frank Cottrell Boyce top the bill for reading community celebration 

National charity, The Reader, will conclude an exciting year of 10th birthday celebrations by bringing people together and books to life at its much-anticipated Christmas event, The Penny Readings. 

Following a two-year break, the annual event returns to The Concert Room of St. George’s Hall on Friday 7 December thanks to the support of Arts Council England, players of the National Lottery through Big Lottery Fund and players of the People’s Postcode Lottery. 

Supporting over 500 Shared Reading groups across the UK each week, The Reader, which brings great stories, poems and plays to life through live reading aloud and group discussion, first launched The Penny Readings in 2004. 

Inspired by Charles Dickens who, in the 1840s, travelled the world with his live readings, the annual event gives a nod to the author with a concluding reading from A Christmas Carol 

The programme of music and entertainment will also include readings from two of the charity’s patrons, award-winning actress Maxine Peake and the author and screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce. 

Maxine Peake, currently on location in Liverpool filming for an ITV mini-series about the Hillsborough disaster, said:

“Reading opens new worlds and deep experience so I’m delighted, as a patron of The Reader, to celebrate the 500 weekly Shared Reading groups The Reader has got going. These groups meet every week, giving people a chance to connect and support each other by sharing great books. What could be better? And I’m looking forward to reading at this year’s Penny Readings at St. George’s Hall where Charles Dickens himself read to a Liverpool audience. What will I be reading? Let’s just leave you with a clue – she’s a Northern Power Woman!” 

The Reader’s founder and director, Jane Davis said:

“Since the last Penny Readings in 2016, our volunteer base has grown enormously – there are now over 800 volunteers leading the Reading Revolution in local communities across the UK. This year we’ve been travelling up and down the country to meet some of them and The Penny Readings will be an incredible opportunity to bring many of them together along with our group members and partners in the North West.” 

Due to demand, 100 public tickets for The Penny Readings will be allocated through a ballot which opens at 10am on Friday 9 November. For more information and to enter the ticket ballot, visit: www.thereader.org.uk/events/pennyreadings-public/ 

To sponsor The Penny Readings, email: comms@thereader.org.uk

Download the full press release here.

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On Active Service: Commemorating the Armistice Centenary through poetry

This week, communities across the UK will come together to commemorate the centenary of the Armistice of 11 November 1918 which brought an end to the First World War.

To mark the week of remembrance and celebration, The Reader has curated a special collection of poems from its 2014 anthology On Active Service 1914-1918 which is available as a free digital download.

Including poems from Wilfred Owen, Margaret Postgate Cole and Issac Rosenberg, the collection captures the words of those who experienced the First World War either as civilians looking on or as soldiers in the thick of it.

We’ll be sharing poems from the anthology with Shared Reading group members and volunteers across the UK and invite you to read it as part of your own moments of remembrance this week.

We’ll also be sharing readings from the collection on our blog and social media channels throughout the week, to see these you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Find out more about On Active Service 1914-1918.

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Sheffield, Doncaster and Rotherham Libraries collaborate to bring people together and books to life

Libraries across South Yorkshire are working together for the first time with national charity, The Reader, to give people across South Yorkshire the chance to experience literature’s life-supporting benefits.

Three libraries across South Yorkshire are launching their first joint project, supported by Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants, that will see The Reader train more than 30 people to deliver 18 Shared Reading groups in a range of library and community venues across the region.

Shared Reading – bringing great books, poems and plays to life through live reading aloud and group discussion – is a powerful group experience that sparks connection, reflection and discovery. By creating space for people of all ages, backgrounds or life situations to explore their inner lives and develop meaningful relationships with others, Shared Reading develops confidence, improves wellbeing and builds community.

The Reader already supports 500 Shared Reading groups that take place up and down the country each week, thanks to a growing movement of almost 900 volunteers. More than 80 of these groups are currently hosted in public libraries where they help to support the health and wellbeing of local communities, and help individuals to develop a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them.

Earlier this month we celebrated Libraries Week so it’s fantastic to follow that with the launch of a new project across South Yorkshire which will bring people from the region’s diverse communities together to enjoy Shared Reading in libraries and local venues,” said The Reader’s founder and director, Jane Davis.

Research tells us there are one million elderly people who are chronically lonely in the UK, one in four people have mental health issues, and one in 10 homes doesn’t possess a single book. In our fast-paced digital age, when many of us are rushed, stressed or disconnected from others, Shared Reading is a tool that can help people to carve out that rare time and space in which we can create human connections, connect with ourselves and engage with meaningful thoughts in a unique, powerful way.”

Representing the three library services involved, Nick Stopforth, Head of Service at Doncaster library said: “We are delighted to have been supported by Arts Council England to deliver what will be an exciting and worthwhile project. Shared Reading is a proven model with clear health outcomes. By collaborating and pooling together our resources across three Local Authorities and upskilling our staff and volunteers to deliver groups, this provides a fantastic springboard by which libraries and The Reader can play a valuable role in connecting our communities and promoting well-being through meaningful activity.

Alison Clark, Director North, Arts Council England said “We were pleased to welcome The Reader to our National Portfolio in April – its Shared Reading project plays an important role in connecting people through the power of reading. And I’m pleased that support through our National Lottery Project Grants programme will allow The Reader to bring this work to libraries in South Yorkshire.

Libraries play an important role as community hubs bringing arts and culture to everyone and the training offered by The Reader will enable a wider audience to experience the many benefits of Shared Reading groups.

To get involved with volunteering with The Reader in South Yorkshire, email volunteer@thereader.org.uk or visit www.thereader.org.uk/volunteer.

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Jane Davis at Imagination and Wellbeing Conference, September 2018

In September, our founder and director Jane Davis spoke at the Imagination and Wellbeing Conference in Sheffield. The conference brought together representatives from research, creative communities, health, arts and education policy to explore how imagination influences our well-being.

Watch Jane’s talk at the conference:

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The Reader bring Shared Reading to St Joseph’s Hospice

To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Day, St. Joseph’s Hospice in Thornton has this week opened its doors to the local community for the launch of a brand new health and wellbeing project, in partnership with national charity, The Reader.

The Reader sparks personal and social change by bringing people together and books to life at weekly Shared Reading sessions.

Volunteers from The Reader have been trialling the project with staff at St. Joseph’s Hospice for the last few months but, from October, they will also be offering regular Shared Reading sessions to help support members of the local community as well as patients and families currently using hospice services.

Kirsty Styles, The Reader’s National Membership Development Manager, said:

“We’re really excited to be bringing our Shared Reading groups to St. Joseph’s Hospice. We believe that literature is full of the stuff that makes us human. When we bring great books, poems and plays to life through live reading aloud and group discussion, it helps us to feel connected, involved and valued. By providing a creative and safe space to explore our inner lives, and develop meaningful relationships with others, Shared Reading improves well-being and builds community.”

The University of Liverpool’s Centre for Research into Literature, Reading and Society has found a significant improvement in the mental health of patients living with depression during the 12-month period in which they attended The Reader’s Shared Reading groups. There was a positive effect in the alleviation of pain symptoms and psychological well-being for those living with chronic pain and also improved mood and reduced agitation for 86% of those living with dementia.

Mike Parr, Chief Executive of St. Joseph’s Hospice, said:

“There have been lots of studies into the importance of reading on mental health. It can reduce stress levels significantly and makes people feel happier so we are really pleased to be involved with this project.
“We all encourage children to read, not just to improve their general vocabulary and spelling but also for their general cognitive development. But it’s just as important for adults, especially those living with mental and physical health conditions. We’re really excited about the project and our partnership with The Reader and we hope lots of people will come along and give it a go on Tuesday 9th October.”

Listen back to Jospice and The Reader on BBC Radio Merseyside:

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Public Notice: Pathway closed for works in Calderstones Park

As the refurbishment of Calderstones Mansion House progresses, John Turner Construction Group would like to notify park users and local residents of the temporary closure of a pathway outside the building.

The area, hatched in red in the image below, will be closed for approximately two weeks from Wednesday 3 October in order to create a new drain connection from the Mansion House.

The Reader and John Turner Construction Group apologise for any inconvenience caused. For more information about the refurbishment of the Mansion House visit the Calderstones blog for all the latest news.

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National Poetry Day and The Reader: Inspiring Change through Poetry

The Reader is inspiring people everywhere to get together on National Poetry Day to share and discover poetry, old and new. To celebrate the occasion, The Reader has curated a special collection of poems on this year’s National Poetry Day theme – Poetry for a Change.

Including poems from Thomas Hardy, Gillian Clarke, and Leontia Flynn among others, The Reader’s National Poetry Day pack features a mix of classic and contemporary works, all available as a free download.

We’ll be sharing poems from the National Poetry Day pack with Shared Reading group members, volunteers, and partners across the UK and beyond. We’ll also be sharing videos and photographs of National Poetry Day readings on our social media channels and we invite you to join in the celebrations and share your #NationalPoetryDay moments with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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History is unearthed as Neolithic Calder Stones begin conservation journey

The Neolithic Calder Stones, one of the region’s most important archaeological artefacts, are embarking on a vital conservation journey this week lovingly overseen by national charity, The ReaderThe excavation of the Stones is the centrepiece of a series of public engagement events taking place in Calderstones Park to celebrate Heritage Open Days 

The Calder Stones, which are as old as Stonehenge and provide evidence of the earliest known settlement in the area, originally formed part of a megalithic tomb over 5000 years ago. The six Stones were displaced in 1845 and arranged in a stone circle on the Calderstones estate by owner Joseph Need Walker. Since 1964, the Stones have been housed in the Harthill Vestibule, a glasshouse where rapid changes in temperature and humidity have accelerated their deterioration.  

Since 2014, The Reader has been working on realising a £5 million project, supported by the National Lottery, to conserve the Stones and redevelop the previously derelict, Grade II Listed Calderstones Mansion House as the International Centre for Shared Reading. Working in partnership with Liverpool City Council and Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the removal and reinstallation of the Stones will be carried out by experts Orbis Conservation with the full permission and oversight of Historic England and with Scheduled Ancient Monument Consent 

The Calder Stones are one of the oldest artefacts on this year’s Heritage Open Days programme. Regular tours throughout Thursday 13 and Friday 14 September will allow visitors the opportunity to observe the removal of the Stones, learn more about the conservation process and explore the rich history of the surrounding park including the 1000-year-old Allerton Oak and the heroic war veteran, Jet the dog.  

Councillor Alice Bennett, Mayoral Lead for Heritage, who will attend a tour alongside the Young Heritage Champions group, said: 

“I am delighted that our Young Heritage Champions will have the opportunity to see the city’s greatest ancient treasures located to their new home. It will be a real thrill to stand in close proximity to these monuments, to learn their history and to understand the impact that relocating will have on their preservation and their future as a major attraction.  

The Stones will return to Calderstones Park in Spring 2019 where they will be installed in a specialist Heritage Centre at the rear of the Mansion House. Their new home will make them more accessible and put them at the centre of a wider heritage offer which will provide an engaging learning experience for visitors of all ages. The Reader’s Calderstones and Heritage Development Manager, George Hawkins said: 

The planning for this work has been in the making since 2012 so this is a hugely exciting development. At The Reader we’re all about bringing people together through great literature and the power of storytelling – these Stones have a nationally important story to tell, our earliest stories here in Liverpool, it’s right that they should be properly looked after and protected for future generations. It’s an honour for us at The Reader to make that possible.” 

Bookings for Heritage Open Days tours can be made on The Reader’s website. There are also opportunities for the local community to be part of this project to secure the future of the Calder Stones.  

The Reader invites anyone who is interested in supporting the project as a volunteer or donor to get in touch by calling 0151 729 2200 or emailing info@thereader.org.uk. 

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‘Never Grow Up, Always Down’ North West charity urges Cheshire residents ahead of Roald Dahl Day event series

The Reader arrives in Chester with an evening of Roald Dahl for big kids at The Storyhouse 

Local charity The Reader is launching a Shared Reading campaign in Cheshire on Roald Dahl Day with an evening at Storyhouse celebrating the magic of reading aloud with adults. 

The Evening of Roald Dahl event, from 6pm to 8pm on Thursday 13 September, will showcase some of the author’s lesser-known adults’ stories, including The Umbrella Man. 

Well known for his enchanting and enduring tales for children, Dahl also wrote 51 short stories for adults, collected in four books, some of which might not be suitable for small ears, they are: Over to You; Kiss, Kiss; Someone Like You and Switch Bitch. 

The event is part of The Reader’s Cheshire roadshow, created for October’s Voluntary Arts and Age UK Age of Creativity festival, which is designed to get more older people involved in creative activities. 

The roadshow will see The Reader popping up for ‘An Afternoon of Roald Dahl’ in Northwich Library on 1 October and at Ellesmere Port Library on 3 October, both from 1pm to 3pm. It will then head back to Storyhouse on 7 October to celebrate Silver Sunday, with Shared Reading sessions at 2pm and 3pm, in collaboration with Brightlife as part of Age UK Cheshire’s Love Later Life festival. 

The Reader was founded in Liverpool a decade ago and is now supporting 500 Shared Reading groups up and down the country every single week, including more than 200 in the North West. 

The Storyhouse already hosts two of these groups. The Cheshire campaign will see the launch of 10 more, led by 20 new local volunteers, in a variety of community, dementia and mental health centres across the county. 

Isolation among adults has been shown to be a public health problem in Cheshire, as it is across the country, with more than 2 million people suffering from chronic loneliness,” said The Reader’s founder and chief executive Jane Davis. 

We’re now appealing for the people of Cheshire to join the reading revolution – particularly those who are keen to build Shared Reading communities in Chester, Northwich, Ellesmere Port, Weaverham and Tarporley. As Roald Dahl said in his final children’s book, The Minpins, ‘those who don’t believe in magic will never find it’, so come along to one of our roadshow events to experience it in action. 

This project is supported by Brightlife Cheshire, a coalition of organisations working together to help reduce social isolation among people aged over 50 in Cheshire West and Chester, as well as the NHS West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group, responsible for commissioning health and care services across the area, with a particular focus on dementia and mental health for this project.   

Evaluation carried out by The Reader and the University of Liverpool has shown that Shared Reading groups can improve wellbeing, reduce social isolation and build stronger, more supportive communities.  

Groups are free to attend and open to everyone regardless of age, ability or background. Weekly sessions are led by a trained Reader Leader who brings something – a short story, poem, play or novel – to be read aloud and discussed by the group.  

By reading with purpose, and sharing thoughts and reflections, many group members find personal meaning in the literature and form strong social connections with others. 

It’s fantastic to see The Reader taking part in Brightlife’s Silver Sunday celebrations at Storyhouse in Chester,” said Chris McClelland, Head of Brightlife. “This project is a wonderful example of how the arts, culture or just a shared interest can really bring people together to help combat loneliness in our borough.”     

The Reader is also looking to support children across Cheshire West through its First Page project, offering collaboration with any groups or partner organisations currently working with families with kids aged 8 and under. Funded by the Steve Morgan Foundation, First Page aims to give families a love of reading for pleasure. With this in mind, there are opportunities for partner staff and volunteers to receive Storytime training, workshops and fully funded trips to The Reader’s Storybarn interactive reading experience.  

Please contact firstpage@thereader.org.uk if you think that this may be on interest to your organisation.   

To learn more about volunteering with The Reader, visit www.thereader.org.uk/volunteer for a list of upcoming Volunteer Recruitment Events across the North West.  

Download the full press release here.


Find out more about The Reader’s Cheshire roadshow and join us at an Evening or Afternoon with Roald Dahl near you.

 

 

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Literature at Lunchtime at Liverpool’s George Henry Lee

The Reader is popping up at the old George Henry Lee department store as part of Ed’s Place, a programme of events and exhibitions created by PLACED to bring Liverpool literature to locals at lunchtime.

The Literature at Lunchtime series will see office workers, retail staff and shoppers experience their local area aloud through books and poems written by Liverpool authors.

The drop-in groups are scheduled for Thursdays at 12.30pm for 45 minutes. Everyone is invited to bring their lunch and experience their city in a different way.

Echoing the 2018 Ed’s Place theme, as well as that of the 2018 Liverpool Biennial it’s running alongside, stories will be chosen to make people reflect on social, political and economic themes from our city through the words of local authors.

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Liverpool charity The Reader calls for a national reading revolution as it reaches 500-group milestone

North West communities are at the forefront of the Shared Reading  movement – now The Reader wants more people to be part of this success story 

The Reader, a national charity based in Liverpool’s Calderstones Park, has hit a major milestone this month, supporting 500 Shared Reading groups across the UK every single week.  

To build on this momentum, it’s now seeking local volunteers to support its national reading revolution, offering new opportunities to read great literature with elderly people in 14 care homes in Liverpool. 

With crucial support from funders including the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, Arts Council England, The Second Half Fund from innovation foundation Nesta and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the players of The National Lottery, more than 600 volunteers now read in libraries, prisons, care homes and hospitals up and down the country, bringing people together and books to life. Over 200 of those groups take place in the North West, with the help of more than 50 local partners.

Research from the University of Liverpool has shown that these Shared Reading groups can improve wellbeing, reduce social isolation and build stronger, more supportive communities. As one local group member said: “The reading groups are a different kind of medicine and it’s through them that I’ve found a way back to life”. 

There are more than 2 million people in the UK suffering from chronic loneliness, which is known to have a detrimental impact on health and wellbeing,” explains The Reader’s founder and chief executive Jane Davis. 

“Shared Reading brings people from all walks of life together and helps them to build social connections. We believe a reading revolution is needed now more than ever in our increasingly isolated digital world. 

It’s an incredible achievement to reach this milestone and it belongs to the volunteers on the ground who make them happen,” Davis continues. “Behind every one of those groups is a trained Reader Leader who brings something meaningful into the lives of their group members, whether it’s a poem that provides comfort, a new friendship or just a friendly face and a cup of tea.  

The Reader, which is celebrating its 10th birthday this year, now reads with over 3,300 people a month in friendly and inclusive adult Shared Reading groups.  

There are lots of live opportunities for people to get involved, so if you love people and love books, and could help us bring a weekly Shared Reading group to places like John Lewis in Liverpool ONE or Anfield Stadium – then we want to hear from you,” Davis adds. 

By reading with purpose, and sharing thoughts and reflections, many group members find personal meaning in the literature and form strong social connections with others. 

Rachel, a volunteer Reader Leader, has been running a Shared Reading group in a care home for three years. She said: “Reading with different people gives you some insight into their lives, reading with older people especially shows you a personal history. These people have lived full, rich lives and Shared Reading shows that person is still very much there. 

Groups are free to attend and open to everyone regardless of age or background, whether they’re hardy readers or just starting out. Weekly sessions are led by a trained Reader Leader who brings something – a short story, poem, play or novel – to be read aloud and discussed by the group.  

Founded in Birkenhead, the charity wants to thank volunteers and supporters from across the North West for leading the national Shared Reading movement.  

To learn more about volunteering with The Reader, visit www.thereader.org.uk/volunteer for a list of upcoming Volunteer Recruitment Events across the North West.  

Download the full press release here.

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A Reader Community Update

At our Big Reader Picnic earlier this month we enjoyed the opportunity to talk to lots of people about our work and about what we’re doing here at Calderstones Park.

We thought it would be helpful to provide a community update about the refurbishment of the Mansion House and our wider work. You can read the full FAQs below.

Read The Reader’s Community Update here.

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In the News, July 2018

Catch up on the latest Reader news from across the UK:

Dementia: discovering an island of unimpairment

By Jo Glanville, Boundless

“How was it possible that my mother’s response to literature had survived, when dementia had ravaged the cognitive abilities necessary to lead her life?

I have since discovered that it is not an isolated incident. The Reader, a charity based in Liverpool, has been running reading groups for people living with dementia for twelve years. Kate McDonnell, head of reading excellence at the charity, told me that when she ran the first dementia reading group she had not expected it to be successful.”

Read more.

This piece was also published in The Mail on Sunday.


Robert Burns’ poetic verses are now helping change the lives of dementia patients

By Julie-Anne Barnes, Daily Record

“The evocative words of Robert Burns have survived and thrived for centuries.

Now the Bard’s work is being used for a new purpose after it was found they can help inspire dementiasufferers.

The Reader charity have been running support groups for people living with the condition for years.”

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Frank Cottrell Boyce joins birthday celebrations at Calderstones Park

Announcing The Big Reader Picnic at Calderstones Park on Saturday July 7

To mark its 10th birthday, The Reader, a Liverpool-based national charity supported by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery that gets thousands of people reading aloud together each week, is hosting a community picnic at its Calderstones Park home.

The celebration will include guest readings from group members and volunteers, as well as local patron, author and screenwriter, Frank Cottrell Boyce.

The event kicks off at 10am this Saturday July 7 in the Calderstones Park picnic area next to The Storybarn, The Reader’s interactive children’s story centre.

The programme includes children’s and adults’ Shared Reading sessions, crafting workshops, face painting, family activities and outdoor heritage tours visiting the park’s ancient Calder Stones and the Mansion House, where the £5m redevelopment project due for completion in Spring 2019 will see the opening of the world’s first International Centre for Shared Reading.

Arriva North West, Make Liverpool, Merseyside Woodturners Association, Little Sunshine Yoga, plus children’s authors of Murray the Smallest Owl and My Colourful Chameleon, are joining the bill with reading, making and doing activities.

The Reader’s Knit & Natter Group, which recently yarn-bombed Liverpool Central Library as part of Make Fest, will also be holding craft workshops.

The good weather is set to continue, so visitors are invited to come prepared with shades, hats and sun cream.

The Reader’s founder Jane Davis will be kicking off the picnic feast at 12noon with a special birthday message. Bring along your favourite picnic treats or pick up your goodies from The Reader’s BBQ, Café or Ice Cream Parlour.

Limited parking is available so why not travel by bus or on foot? Plan your visit now with Merseytravel.

5 Things to Do at The Big Reader Picnic

1. Enjoy a live reading from author and screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce

Award-winning screenwriter and novelist Frank Cottrell Boyce joins a main stage lineup of Reader volunteers reading favourite literature throughout the day, alongside live music. Visitors can also sign up to join Shared Reading sessions in the outdoors.

2. Fly away on a magical storytime adventure in The Storybarn’s hot air balloon

The Storybarn will be opening its doors for free sessions for families. Sign up in the picnic area on arrival to meet the magical storytime robot, hop aboard the hot air balloon and whizz down the Storybarn slide (perfect for big and little kids!).

3. Get into making with Make Liverpool (makers of the pirate ship in Liverpool ONE’s Treasure Island!)

Meet the makers of the pirate ship currently moored at The Reader’s Treasure Island pop up on Paradise Street. Make Liverpool is a creative organisation that shares, makes and fixes from its base in the North Docks. They’ll be bringing their making skills to the crowds at Calderstones.

4. A book signing with Leonie Roberts, author of Colourful Chameleon

Families can enjoy a live reading and book signing of My Colourful Chameleon with author Leonie Roberts.

5. Discover the secrets of the Neolithic Calder Stones on a free heritage tour.

Taking in the rich history and heritage of the park, free walking tours will tell the story of the Neolithic Calder Stones, the earliest signs of human life in this area, along with the ‘thousand-year-old’ Allerton Oak and the historic Mansion House.

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In the News, June 2018

Catch up on the latest Reader news from across the UK:

Are children being let down by unsophisticated language in child literature? Photo: Johnny Mcclung

Is a new underclass of citizens being created by the ‘dumbing down’ of children’s books?

by Fran Yeoman, i News 

While Jane Davis, CEO of The Reader, a charity that promotes shared reading, doesn’t think the creation of a linguistically limited “underclass” was deliberate, “it has the same effect. As Jeanette Winterson wrote, a tough life needs a tough language; we need complex prose for complex thinking.”

Read more.

 


New chapter begins as local communities reap the many delights of written words

North Belfast News


Volunteer Week: Jane Davis and Jay Kennedy join Roger Phillips on BBC Radio Merseyside

Listen now.


Poetry in Motion with The Reader

by Nature4Health

The group, comprised of residents and staff from nearby care homes, as well as a number of dedicated volunteers is called ‘Reading for Nature’, a poetry group for people with dementia run by The Mersey Forest as part of their Nature 4 Health programme in partnership with The Reader.

Read more.

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Charity welcomes £373,000 investment to improve the lives of children in the North West 

Announced in 2017, The Reader was delighted earlier today to welcome a major investment from the Steve Morgan Foundation which will significantly improve the life chances of children living across the North West by building a culture of reading for pleasure that will empower them for life.  

Representatives from The Reader, the Steve Morgan Foundation and Home-Start

According to UNESCO “Reading for pleasure is one of the most important things that will make a child successful in life, with a greater impact than a parent’s level of education or how many books there are in the home. The Literacy and Life Expectancy report published earlier this year also highlighted a 25-year life expectancy disparity between communities with the most and fewest literacy challenges, with research from National Literacy Trust identifying parts of Liverpool, Wirral and Knowsley to have particular vulnerability.  

The investment from the Steve Morgan Foundation will enable The Reader to expand a sustainable and vibrant families programme across the North West, building on its work with nurseries and visitors to The Storybarn, their interactive story centre. Working with a range of organisations across the region, The Reader will embed Shared Reading into public provision for families most in need, by providing training and support for staff and volunteers at a grassroots level.  

By supporting partners to create a culture of reading for pleasure within their services, The Reader aims to create a legacy that will benefit families for the long-term. The charity’s founder and director Jane Davis said: “We were thrilled to announce last year that we were successful in our application for grant funding from the Steve Morgan Foundation and we’re delighted that the project is now underway. By working with partners across the North West, such as Home-Start, we have an incredible opportunity to transform the lives, not just of children here today in Southport, but right across the region, for generations to come. 

They say, give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, but teach him how to fish and he’ll never go hungry. That’s what The Reader’s family programme will do. Providing access to books is one thing, but inspiring and building the confidence of parents, carers, parents-to-be, and people who work with children day-in, day-out, creating a culture of reading for pleasure, that’s how we can transform lives for years to come. 

Presenting the cheque on behalf of the Steve Morgan Foundation, director of regional funding Jane Harris said: “We first worked with The Reader back in 2010 and we’re delighted that they are the first recipient of one of our new Major Grants for uplift funding. The Trustees were very by impressed the team and their entrepreneurial approach to what they are trying to achieve. They do an outstanding job and we are delighted to be able to fund the Families Programme for the next three years. 

The presentation took place earlier today at a Family Group session run by Home-Start Southport and Formby, just one of the groups which will benefit from this investment. Annie Ives, operations manager at the Southport and Formby Home-Start said: “We’re delighted to partner with The Reader on this fantastic project. This is something we can bring to Home-Start Centres across the region so that families in Knowsley, Wirral and Southport will benefit. It’s so important to for parents and carers to foster that love of reading, this programme will give them the skills and the confidence to do just that.” 

For over a decade The Reader has been delivering Shared Reading groups to people of all ages and backgrounds, a deceptively simple model which improves health and well-being, reduces social isolation and builds stronger, more supportive communities.  

The Reader is keen to work with a diverse range of organisations across the North West to bring the benefits of this programme to as many families as possible, contact childrenandyoungpeople@thereader.org.uk for more information. 

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Charity celebrates volunteers building Shared Reading community in North Belfast

As the UK marked National Volunteers’ Week this week, a group of volunteers with The Reader, have been celebrating an exciting new chapter at The Duncairn Centre for Culture and Arts in North Belfast.

The Reader, a charity which brings people together and books to life, is spearheading a reading revolution to bring the health and social benefits of Shared Reading to local communities across the UK. This week they visited a new group of volunteers in North Belfast who will lead the movement in Northern Ireland. The 14 newly trained volunteers will now bring Shared Reading groups into libraries, cafes, care homes, schools and community centres across North Belfast and beyond.

Shared Reading is a powerful yet deceptively simple model which creates a positive impact for people of all ages and backgrounds, particularly for those affected by social isolation or who live with mental health issues or dementia. Weekly Shared Reading groups provide a friendly, welcoming space where stories and poems are read aloud and thoughts and reflections can be shared. Group members find personal meaning in the literature, improving their emotional well-being, and form social connections with others, creating stronger and more supportive communities.

Marnie Kennedy, Coordinator at The Duncairn and a volunteer Shared Reading Organiser, has been working with The Reader for four years and welcomes this growth of the volunteer team in Northern Ireland. She said:

“It’s wonderful to have so many new volunteers on board. We had twice as many people apply as there were places on the training course and we have waiting lists for all our existing Shared Reading groups so we know the demand is there! Now we need to find more partners and host venues who want to bring this incredible thing into their service.”

The Reader currently supports over 560 specially-trained Reader Leader volunteers across the UK but the charity’s founder and director Jane Davis says their work is far from done:

“I’m thrilled to see Shared Reading taking off in Northern Ireland. When we started doing this over a decade ago, we could never have imagined how many people we would reach, how many group members and volunteers Shared Reading would have an impact on. It’s fantastic that now the volunteers from The Duncairn will bring that to communities in North Belfast.”

“There is a quote we often use at The Reader. James Baldwin said: ‘You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.’ And that’s what Shared Reading does, it is a brilliant way to tackle those big social issues that affect every individual and every community in the country. We won’t rest until everyone, no matter who or where they are, can find a group near them.”

If you’d like to know more about bringing Shared Reading to people in your local community and volunteering with The Reader, visit www.thereader.org.uk or email volunteer@thereader.org.uk.

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The Reader teams up with Arriva and Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse Theatres for National Share-A-Story Month

Arriva North West and Wales has teamed up with The Reader and Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse Theatres for a whole host of activities to support National Share-A-Story Month in May.

National Share-A-Story Month (NSSM) is an annual celebration of the power of storytelling and story sharing. Arriva, The Reader and the Everyman & Playhouse Theatres have planned some exciting ways that everyone in the family can celebrate storytelling:

These include:

  • Surprise poems relating to the North West region left on Arriva buses throughout the month to inspire and entertain passengers
  • Volunteer storytellers from the Everyman & Playhouse travelling on buses in Merseyside to tell stories to children and their families on routes popular for days out in May half term week – For details of story telling bus schedule click here!
  • Story and Song sessions in dementia care settings across Liverpool during May organised by the Everyman & Playhouse and The Reader.
  • Arriva to donate 300 tickets to people living with dementia and their carers for a dementia friendly performance of Paint Your Wagon at the Everyman on Tuesday 3 July.
  • Encouraging people to share tales of their family days out and stories about the best places they’ve been together in the region on social media using the #shareastorymonth hashtag. The best stories or poems will have a chance of winning travel passes, theatre tickets, and book tokens – To share your stories click here!

Lisa Pearson from Arriva North West & Wales said: “We are so excited to team up with The Reader and the Everyman & Playhouse for National Share-A-Story Month. We wanted to create events and activities the whole family can get involved with and experience theatre, poetry, and share their own stories.”

Louise Stothard from the Federation of Children’s Books Groups, who created National Share-A-Story Month said. “It’s fantastic that Arriva, The Reader and the Everyman & Playhouse have come together to celebrate NSSM on the 50th anniversary of the Federation. The core aim of the organisation is bringing children and stories together. The activity happening here in the North West is bringing not just children, but the whole family together to celebrating storytelling and poetry, and that is a wonderful thing!”

Jane Davis, The Reader’s Founder and Director said: “We’re thrilled to be celebrating National Share-A-Story Month with Arriva and the Everyman & Playhouse. Research from UNESCO shows that ‘reading for pleasure is the single most important thing that will make a child successful in life’ and we see the power that great stories have in our work every day. Whether it’s our sessions for families and schools at The Storybarn at Calderstones or Treasure Island at Liverpool ONE, or our Shared Reading groups for adults run by our brilliant volunteers; we see stories bringing people and communities together.”

Rebecca Ross-Williams, engagement director at the Everyman & Playhouse said: “Share a Story month is such a lovely opportunity for people of all ages to tell stories, hear stories and create their own stories. We are delighted to be able to engage families through storytelling on buses and to reach so many people living with dementia with stories and songs this month.”

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The Reader seeks volunteers to help lonely and isolated older people across Bristol

In partnership with Bristol Ageing Better, The Reader, a national charity which builds stronger, healthier communities through Shared Reading, has announced an exciting new volunteer-led programme which will create meaningful shared experiences and stronger social networks for the over 50s across Bristol.

Over the next two years, The Reader will work with organisations across the area to establish 30 new Shared Reading groups and train 60 new volunteers from the community and partner organisations to bring Shared Reading into hospital wards, sheltered housing sites, care homes, libraries, community centres and various other settings. This project has been developed in partnership with Bristol City Council Sheltered Housing, Brunelcare, Fresh Arts at Southmead Hospital and Bristol City Council Libraries who will each host groups across the city. We invite any further organisations, who want to
support the wellbeing of their service users through Shared Reading groups to please come forward, get in contact and get involved.

The Reader, who have pioneered Shared Reading groups as a means to better health and well-being since 2008, previously worked with Bristol Ageing Better as part of a one-year pilot. The charity already delivers over 55 weekly groups across the South West, bringing people of diverse ages and backgrounds together to read aloud a story and poem, in a welcoming environment. Shared Reading group members report finding personal meaning in the literature, improved emotional well-being and stronger social connections with others.

Funded by the Big Lottery Fund, Bristol Ageing Better aims to reduce social isolation and loneliness among older people, empowering them to live fulfilling lives and feel more connected within their local community. Working closely with partner organisations in the Bristol Ageing Better programme, The Reader is seeking to recruit 60 new volunteers who can help the charity bring Shared Reading groups to socially isolated older people in the area.

The Reader’s founder and director Jane Davis said:

“We’re delighted to work with Bristol Ageing Better again. Loneliness is a huge social problem across the UK but it’s one that we can do something about. Shared Reading groups are a simple way to bring people together and create a meaningful, shared experience that creates real, personal connections. It’s our ambition to make Shared Reading part of the national fabric so that everyone, no matter who or where they are, can find a group near them.”

Adam Rees, Programme Director of Bristol Aging Better said:

“The aim of Bristol Ageing Better is to find the best ways of reducing social isolation and loneliness. We have funded The Reader to undertake this work
to explore how older people can get more social contact through local group activities. We are delighted to support the development of Shared Reading groups to meet these aims.”

Simon, a Reader Volunteer running a weekly Shared Reading group in Bristol said:

“Leading a Shared Reading group is a highlight of the week for me and I know it is for a lot of people who come along. It’s a really stimulating activity, sharing the thoughts and experiences that come from reading a wide variety of texts. It’s something that doesn’t require any preparation for attenders, so it’s dead easy to be a part of the group, either regularly or occasionally. There’s a real sense of companionship and fun to the sessions and I always learn so much.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about volunteering with The Reader in Bristol is invited to drop in to an upcoming Volunteer Information Day in Bristol:
Friday 11 May, 10am-1pm, The Foyer, Bristol Central Library, College Green, BS1 5TL
or
Wednesday 23 May, 11am-2pm, Bishopston Library, Gloucester Road, Bishopston, BS7 8BN

Download the full press release.

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National Health Executive: A different kind of medicine

Could literature improve the quality of life of those with mental health conditions? According to Jane Davis, founder and director of The Reader, the evidence for this is clear – and the NHS stands to benefit the most.

Medicine wasn’t at the forefront of my mind in The Reader’s formative days back in 2001; if anything, the foundations had been built on education. I’d been teaching English Literature at the University of Liverpool, and my personal experiences had taught me that great literature was a useful human resource which could help people living lives full of difficulty – today, we might call it developing resilience.

Read the full article.

Published on National Health Executive, Wednesday 2 May, 2018.

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North West community comes together to welcome £400,000 award from the players of People’s Postcode Lottery

Frank Cottrell Boyce, Reader Volunteer Louise, Lisa Belletty of People’s Postcode Lottery, and Jane Davis, founder and director of The Reader

Over 100 Reader volunteers and group members were joined by Luciana Berger, MP and author Frank Cottrell Boyce to celebrate a year of Shared Reading.

The Reader, a national charity based in Liverpool, which builds stronger, healthier communities through volunteer-led Shared Reading groups, welcomed an award of £400,000 raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

The presentation was made on Friday, April 20, at a celebration event for The Reader’s North West project which aims to bring Shared Reading groups to libraries, care homes, community centres and public spaces across the region in order to improve mental health and well-being and reduce social isolation.

Supported by a growing family of commissioning partners including Halton Borough Council, Halton CCG, Knowsley CCG, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, North West Boroughs NHS Foundation Trust, Well Halton and Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, the volunteer-led project was established in 2017 with support from the innovation foundation Nesta and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport through The Second Half Fund.

Luciana Berger, MP, a patron for Shared Reading in the North West project said during her speech at Friday’s event:

“The early success of this North West initiative is testament to the efforts of all volunteers who lead groups, the people who attend, the staff, and the funders who generously back the initiative. The continued growth of Shared Reading across the North West will play an important role in breaking down social isolation and bringing communities together.”

In the first year of Shared Reading North West project, 319 volunteers have helped to double the number of weekly Shared Reading groups across the region. This inspiring, people-led movement will serve as the blueprint for a growing Reading Revolution to empower volunteers to bring Shared Reading groups to communities across the UK.

With this core support from players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, The Reader aims to increase the national reach of their innovative Shared Reading programme so that everyone, no matter who or where they are, can find a group in their local community.

Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said:

“Sharing a good story brings people together and takes them on a journey of discovery. We are really pleased that players are helping The Reader to create a unique story of its own and we hope that funding will help bring this experience to even more communities across the country.”

Accepting the funding on behalf of the Shared Reading community, Louise, a Reader Volunteer said:

“It’s been a lovely day getting together with volunteers from across the North West and catching up with everyone. I’ve been volunteering with The Reader since 2010 so it’s great to accept this funding on behalf of us all here in the North West and all the volunteers and group members from across the UK!”

Speaking to the audience on Friday, Frank Cottrell Boyce, award-winning author and screenwriter, and Reader Patron said:

“Being read to is completely primal. When we are read to we all become children again, it’s something about listening to the words, it brings us all to the same place. That’s why Shared Reading is so powerful – it brings the literature alive in the room and it will find you wherever you are – in classrooms, libraries or prisons – whatever your circumstances – living with mental health issues or dementia – the literature gets through and brings us together.

“The Reader is empowering volunteers to do that, to reach out to people alone or just out of touch with things, are creating a connection, a lifeline to bring people together.”

If you would like further information on Shared Reading or how you can volunteer, click here.

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Work on The International Centre for Shared Reading gets underway at Calderstones Mansion

Credit Paul Bartlett (PB Photography) Calderstones Mansion House L-R Neil Hoey (John Turner Construction Group), Jane Davis (Founder & Director of The Reader), Mayor Joe Anderson, Sarah Fletcher (COO & Deputy Director at The Reader), George Hawkins (Heritage Manager at The Reader)

The Props Assist the House, Emily Dickinson

Until the House is built
And then the Props withdraw
And adequate, erect,
The House supports itself…

The Reader is delighted to announce that work to redevelop the Grade II-listed Calderstones Mansion House has begun. Hoardings and scaffolding have been erected around the building at the heart of the park as builders from John Turner Construction Group arrive on site to complete the multi-million-pound project which will transform the Mansion House into The Reader’s International Centre for Shared Reading.

The charity, which aims to get great literature into the hands of people who need it most, has been based in Calderstones Park since September 2014 and has secured major funding from Heritage Lottery Fund, Liverpool City Council and private funders to bring the Mansion House back to life as a community hub built on reading and well-being activity.

Phase One of this ambitious project was completed in 2015 with the opening of the much–loved children’s literature centre, The Storybarn, and The Reader Ice Cream Parlour, a new social enterprise, in the courtyard at Calderstones Park. The Mansion House closed its doors to the public in early 2017 to allow Phase Two to get underway. Park users will have noticed an increase in activity on site in recent months as the popular Reader Café moved into a temporary building in the courtyard and the arrival of a temporary toilet block which will allow much-needed repairs to get underway at the Mansion House.

Dr Jane Davis, founder and director of The Reader said:

“It’s fantastic to see fences up and builders on site. So much of the planning and the work so far has happened behind the scenes, now that park users can see the signs of progress, the excitement has gone up a notch.

“Now we can really focus on what Calderstones is going to be when the doors open again next year – a community based around readers, the rich heritage of the site and the experience of nature offered by the park. It will be a place where you can learn, get involved, meet other people, and build relationships. There will be readers and reading rooms, wellbeing activities, heritage, volunteering, food and fun all within a beautiful public park. And our social enterprises will continue to generate jobs and volunteering opportunities. All these things will be held together by the ideal of a warm, kind, connected, lively community of readers.”

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson said:

“We know that reading is crucial for a child’s development and that reading for pleasure can provide a wealth of opportunities for people, whatever their age or background. What The Reader is creating here at Calderstones Mansion House is fantastic – it will give people the chance to discover reading for pleasure and for better health and wellbeing, but it will also create jobs, volunteering and learning opportunities. It will be fantastic to see this beautiful building brought back to life.”

The International Centre for Shared Reading will celebrate the history and rich heritage of the Mansion House, built in 1828 for Joseph Need Walker and later owned by the McIver family of Cunard Shipping, and of the park itself. The Reader can confirm that the Calder Stones, the internationally important Neolithic monuments which once formed part of a chambered tomb and give the park its name, will be temporarily taken off-site for conservation and cleaning work. The Stones, which are currently housed in a glasshouse in the park, will return to take pride of place at the centre of a new heritage offer in time for estimated project completion in Spring 2019.

With building work underway there will be an increase in traffic on site but wherever possible this will occur during quieter times in the park. The Reader hopes to keep disruption for park users to a minimum and welcome any questions or concerns from the local community. There are also opportunities for the local community to be apart of this project, The Reader invites anyone who is interested in supporting the project as a volunteer or donor to get in touch.

You can contact The Reader by calling 0151 729 2200 or emailing info@thereader.org.uk.

Download the full press release.

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The Storybarn’s Treasure Island adventure to launch at Liverpool ONE

A Liverpool-based national charity and social enterprise is set to bring children’s books to life in the heart of Liverpool’s retail district with a thrilling new interactive reading adventure.

The Reader, the charity that brought Michael Rosen’s Bear Hunt, Chocolate Cake and Bad Things to the city and runs The Storybarn in South Liverpool’s Calderstones Park, is partnering with Liverpool ONE once again on a brand-new immersive experience to inspire families.

Taking inspiration from a treasure trove of children’s books, including Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel, The Storybarn’s Treasure Island will set sail as part of Liverpool ONE’s Story Season.

Part-interactive theatre, part story-telling, Storybarn’s Treasure Island at Paradise Street, Liverpool ONE includes a tropical desert island, a sensory underwater grotto and pirate shipwreck to explore. The 45-minute sessions will run daily at 10am, 12noon, 2pm and 4pm with the Crafting Cove open for free, 10am – 5pm seven days a week. Taking inspiration from the very best children’s stories and poems including Quentin Blake’s The Green Ship, Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are and Edward Lear’s The Owl and the Pussycat, The Storybarn’s Treasure Island is a celebration of great books and fun-filled family reading adventures.

The Storybarn’s Treasure Island is set to open on Monday, April 9. But the fun is set to start earlier, with three daily Treasure Trails starting from Thursday, March 29. The guided trail will take parents and children around the streets of Liverpool ONE in search of story clues and pirate treasure. Adventuring families can sign up for free, in person, at Liverpool ONE’s Reading Trees.

The Reader’s Founder and Director, Dr. Jane Davis MBE said:

“We are thrilled to be bringing The Storybarn’s Treasure Island interactive family experience to Liverpool ONE this Spring. We’re incredibly proud of our work at The Storybarn at Calderstones Park, but we want to read with a lot more families across the region to help kick-start a life-long love of books.

Research from UNESCO shows that ‘reading for pleasure is the single most important thing that will make a child successful in life;. The single biggest impact on a child’s independent reading is whether a parents reads to them. We know this can be daunting, so we need to find new ways to reach and inspire families to read together, and that’s why we’re delighted to be able to bring The Storybarn’s Treasure island to the city centre”.

Donna Howitt, Marketing Director at Liverpool ONE, said:

“We are proud to play our part in encouraging people to discover or grow their love of reading. We’re also delighted to be working again with The Reader, bringing a taste of their popular Storybarn to Liverpool ONE.”

Story Season is Liverpool ONE’s three-month celebration of all things literary with visitors encouraged to swap their books at the much-loved Reading Trees, enjoy special appearances, book reviews and competitions.

Tickets for The Storybarn’s Treasure Island are available to pre-book now at www.thestorybarn.org.uk. Suitable for children, new-born – eight and their families, tickets are only £4.50 per person and under 1s do not require a ticket. So pack your telescopes, compasses, buckets and spades and as we head for the horizon in search of sensational stories.

While The Storybarn’s Treasure Island experience is for children and their families, The Reader team will also be on hand to speak to visitors about their free weekly Shared Reading groups for adults. These groups are accessible for all and you don’t have to be a reader to join. Anyone interested in joining a group, or volunteering to run their own group is welcome to pop in at any time to find out more.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL PRESS RELEASE

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New national alliance for Culture, Health and Wellbeing launches in Birmingham

An alliance of cultural organisations from across England launches a new national body to develop and promote the role of arts and culture in supporting the country’s health and wellbeing (launch 13 March 2018).

The Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance is a new national organisation for all who believe in the value of cultural engagement and participation for health and wellbeing. It will advocate for the work, provide training, resources and events, and develop understanding of how participating in cultural activities can help individual and community health and wellbeing.

For many years, organisations around the country have been working in hospitals and care homes, in museums and galleries and community spaces creating cultural opportunities for people living with physical and mental ill health. Now, for the first time, these organisations are coming together to provide a shared and collective voice for this work. The Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance brings together the National Alliance for Arts, Health and Wellbeing with the National Alliance for Museums, Health and Wellbeing and involves over 40 leading organisations.

The Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance is a free membership organisation and will provide monthly updates on policy and developments in the field, access to resources and research, as well as deliver training, conferences and events. It will advocate for the importance of cultural engagement for the health and wellbeing of everyone in society. It will work closely with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing to bring about a step change in policy and delivery, and will focus on a strong regional infrastructure to support development and progress in the field. The Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance is an Arts Council Sector Support Organisation, joining the National Portfolio of Organisations.

This is a rapidly expanding field with many museums and cultural organisations now developing programmes designed to support health and wellbeing. The new Alliance will encourage good practice, connecting healthcare providers, commissioners and clinicians with cultural organisations to deliver the best possible opportunities for everyone to benefit from the health and wellbeing impact of high quality cultural experiences.

At Birmingham Museum, 150 practitioners, artists, doctors and health service users came to celebrate the launch of the new Alliance with the Birmingham Choir with No Name, artist Bobby Baker, Lord Howarth of Newport, President of the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance and Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Arts, Health and Wellbeing and Mags Patten, Executive Director of Public Policy and Communications at Arts Council England.

To find out more and to join the new Alliance, please visit: www.culturehealthandwellbeing.org.uk

The Steering Group is made up of regional representation:
Arts Derbyshire
Arts & Health South West
Arts & Minds
Beaney House of Art and Knowledge
Birmingham Museums Trust
British Museum
Creative Health CIC
Equal Arts
London Arts in Health Forum
Manchester Metropolitan University
Mansfield Museum
Ministry of Others
National Museums Liverpool
Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery
Thackray Medical Museum
Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums
University College London
University of Cambridge Museums

Supporting this will be a group of Strategic Alliance Members including:
64 Million Artists
Age Friendly Museums Network
Age of Creativity
Art Fund
Association of British Orchestras
Breathe Arts Health Research
British Association of Art Therapists
British Association of Drama Therapists
British Association of Music Therapists
Creative Dementia Arts Network
Culture 24
Group for Education in Museums GEM
Happy Museum
Historic England
Lapidus
Live Music Now
Making Music
Music in Hospitals & Care
National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance
Nordoff Robbins
Paintings in Hospitals
People Dancing
Royal Society for Public Health Special Interest Group for Arts, Health & Wellbeing
Snape Maltings
Social Prescribing Network
Sport in Museums Network
The Reader
The Whitworth and Manchester Museums
Voluntary Arts Network
Willis Newson
Yorkshire Sculpture Park

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The Reader announced in AESOP Arts in Health Conference & Showcase programme

Aesop announces Arts in Health programmes presenting at its second Arts in Health Conference & Showcase for Health Decision Makers, this April.

Aesop’s second national Arts in Health Conference & Showcase takes place from 9.45am – 6pm on Thursday 19 April 2018 at Milton Court, in partnership with the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the College of Medicine.

For the second Conference & Showcase, the focus is on how the arts are contributing to current health priorities by reducing demands on the health system, addressing the neglect of mental health, supporting an ageing population and tackling health inequalities.

The event will showcase 24 arts programmes already helping deliver current health priorities. Each will feature a presentation of the programme, testament from beneficiaries and health and cost-effectiveness perspectives.

Patsy Rodenburg OBE is an international expert on teaching voice and speech.
She has worked with Dame Judi Dench, Franco Zeffirelli, Tim Burton, Harold Pinter and high-profile politicians. She will explore ‘Presence’ – the quality of
self-assurance and effectiveness that enables great performers to perform, great teachers to teach and all healers to heal.

Dame Darcey Bussell DBE will present her new venture Diverse Dance Mix.
Tim Joss, Aesop Chief Executive and Founder has programmed the Conference alongside Dr Michael Dixon, Chair of Council, College of Medicine and National Clinical Champion for Social Prescribing and Professor Helena Gaunt, Vice Principal and Director of Guildhall Innovation at Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Of the programme he says –

“The showcase opens a window on programmes which are both strong artistically and powerful contributors to health improvement. They demonstrate how arts and culture are part of the solution to today’s health challenges.”

The 24 Arts in Health programmes that will be showcased at the Conference are as follows –

  1. Aesop – Dance to Health: a falls prevention dance programme for older
    people
  2. Akademi – Dance Well: South Asian dance with cardiac and pulmonary
    rehabilitation outpatients.
  3. Breathe Arts Health Research – Melodies for Mums
  4. British Lung Foundation – Singing for lung health
  5. Clod Ensemble – Performing Medicine
  6. English National Ballet – Dance for Parkinson’s: A person-centred
    approach
  7. Equal Arts – Creative Age Challenge
  8. Guildhall School of Music & Drama – Careful: Supporting nurses’
    physical and emotional well-being through theatre and dance
    performance
  9. Guildhall School of Music & Drama – Music, Memory and Me:
    celebrating the person within the patient
  10. Guildhall School of Music & Drama – Music therapy for older people
  11. Healing Arts Cumberland Infirmary – About Being: A dance from
    hospital to home
  12. Historic Royal Palaces – Sensory Palaces for people with dementia and
    their carers
  13. Jack Drum Arts – Performing Arts for Positive Mental Health
  14. Lime Music for Health – Medical Notes: Music at the Heart of Life
  15. Live Music Now – Developing sustainable live music as part of care
    ‘toolkits’ in residential care for older people
  16. Liverpool Philharmonic – Partnerships for Recovery musician in
    residence
  17. Manchester Camerata – Music in Mind: the co-delivery of musicmaking
    sessions by musicians and care staff for people living with
    dementia
  18. Mental Fight Club – Founded, led and delivered by People with Mental
    Health Experience
  19. National Museums Liverpool – House of Memories: The impacts of
    museum-led dementia awareness programme
  20. Outside Edge Theatre Company – Unfinished Business: theatre
    performance on rehab / addiction
  21. Pavilion Dance (South West) – ‘Mind the gap’: the bridge between
    therapeutic health provision and independent self-management for
    People with Parkinson’s
  22. Somewhere – See beyond Stroke
  23. South Staffs & Shropshire healthcare NHS FT – UP Tempo: music
    for health
  24. The Reader – Building community and personal resilience through
    weekly shared reading

The Conference will be facilitated by Vivienne Parry OBE, science writer and
broadcaster with the following speakers:

  • Dame Darcey Bussell DBE President of the Royal Academy of Dance & Founder of Diverse Dance Mix
  • Professor Gillian Leng CBE NICE Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Health & Social Care, Professor Tim Kendall NHS England National Clinical Director for Mental Health
  • Professor Martin Vernon NHS England National Clinical Director for Older People and Noel Gordon, Chair at NHS Digital, NHS England Non-ExecutiveDirector & Board member

Tickets

Tickets for the Conference are £95 (plus booking fee) and include the day’s
events, lunch and refreshments.
The Conference and Showcase will take place from 9.45am – 6pm on Thursday 19th April 2018 at Guildhall School of Music & Drama Milton Court, 1 Milton Street, London EC2Y 9BH.

Tickets available to buy online now.

For more information email info@ae-sop.org, call 01993 870 161 or visit
www.ae-sop.org

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The Reader welcomes incredible support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery

Funding from players will support Shared Reading movement to help people affected by social isolation, mental health issues and dementia across Great Britain.

The Reader, a national charity which builds stronger, healthier communities through volunteer-led Shared Reading groups, has been awarded £400,000 of funds raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

The Reader brings people together through Shared Reading – a deceptively simple model which creates a positive impact for people of all ages and backgrounds, in particular those affected by social isolation, mental health issues or dementia. Weekly reading groups provide a friendly and welcome space where stories and poems are read aloud, and thoughts and reflections can be shared. Group members find personal meaning in the literature, improving their emotional well-being, and form social connections with others, creating stronger and more supportive communities.

In a recent evaluation of group members’ health and well-being, 93% reported that they felt better after attending a Shared Reading session and 91% recognised improvements to their confidence and communications skills. The impact of Shared Reading is also felt by Reader Volunteers who lead the weekly groups, with over 90% reporting improved personal well-being, a greater sense of achievement and feeling more connected to others.

The Reader currently supports over 500 specially trained volunteers who deliver over 80% of the 403 Shared Reading groups running nationally. The charity is creating a people-led movement to bring communities together through Shared Reading, making groups accessible to everyone across the UK.

Jane Davis, Director of The Reader, said:

“Shared Reading has the power to change lives and we want to make it possible for everyone, whoever they are, wherever they are, to find a group in their community. We want to bring Shared Reading to every postcode in England, Scotland and Wales, and with this award from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we’ll have the core funding to strengthen our movement and support the incredible work that our staff and volunteers do week in, week out right across the country. We want to say a huge thank you to players of People’s Postcode Lottery for this incredible award.”

Helen Willows, a GP and Reader Volunteer in Shropshire, said:

“It’s fantastic to know that The Reader has the support of the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery. As a volunteer for The Reader, you don’t feel like you’re working for them – you’re working with them, you’re part of something much bigger. I run two Shared Reading groups a week and coordinate other volunteers in my area, it’s such a comfort to know that The Reader staff are behind us, that they are there when we need them and have a genuine interest, not just in our groups, but in us – the volunteers.”

The Reader deliver Shared Reading groups across the UK, with large pockets of work in Greater London, the South West, North Wales and in the North West where their headquarters are situated in South Liverpool.

A representative of the People’s Postcode Lottery will present The Reader with a cheque at a Volunteer Celebration event in Wirral next month.

If you would like further information on Shared Reading or how you can volunteer, please visit www.thereader.org.uk/

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Shared Reading expands nationwide thanks to National Lottery funding

UK charity to help people living with social isolation,
mental health issues and dementia through reading groups.

The Reader, a national charity which aims to build stronger, healthier communities through a volunteer-led Shared Reading programme, has been awarded £850,000 of National Lottery funding through the Big Lottery Fund.

The Reader brings people together through Shared Reading – a simple model which creates a positive impact for those living with social isolation, mental health issues or dementia. Weekly reading groups provide a friendly and welcoming space where stories and poems are read aloud, and thoughts and reflections can be shared. Group members can find personal meaning in the literature, improving their emotional well-being, and form social connections with others, creating stronger and more supportive communities.

In a recent survey of Reader volunteers from projects in London, Bristol and across the North West, over 90% reported that their experiences leading Shared Reading groups had improved their personal well-being, provided a greater sense of achievement and made them feel more connected to other people. Furthermore, 93% of people felt better after attending a Shared Reading session and 91% said their confidence and communication skills had improved. One group member said: “The reading groups are a different kind of medicine and it’s through them that I’ve found a way back to life.”

The National Lottery grant will run over three years to develop stronger digital platforms, communications channels and resources to help the charity reach more people. This will also enable the large-scale recruitment, training and support of over 700 volunteers, as well as empowering an existing network across various parts of the UK, to create and grow local, supportive communities for people of all ages and backgrounds.

Developing new models of partnership, the project will work with established community organisations, such as The Bromley by Bow Centre, to embed Shared Reading in their services. Working closely with local GPs, health, library and community services, The Reader will bring Shared Reading to those who will benefit most from the social and emotional support provided by these weekly groups.

Jane Davis, Director of The Reader, said: “We are thrilled to have received this National Lottery funding, which is not just an investment in Shared Reading but also in the people who are going to lead this movement. It is people who make this incredible thing happen when we sit down to read together. Years ago, the volunteers we worked with through the Big Lottery funded Merseyside project inspired us to put volunteers in the lead and how fitting now, that this grant will enable us to do that across the UK.”

Joe Ferns, UK Funding Director at the Big Lottery Fund, said: “Research carried out by The Reader shows the difference Shared Reading can have for both volunteers and group members, which is why we are proud to be putting National Lottery funding behind the expansion of this project across the UK. It will give people the opportunity to improve their social skills and in time help them to lead happier lives.

“Led by an army of volunteers, this project will make a vital difference to communities, bringing people of all ages and backgrounds together to expand their minds and experience a new adventure through someone else’s eyes.”

In 2011, The Reader embarked on a five-year Big Lottery Funded project which trained over 280 volunteers to bring Shared Reading to 2243 older people in care homes and community settings across Merseyside. When the project came to an end, over 80% of volunteers expressed their intention to continue reading with older people in their local communities. This passion and personal commitment these volunteers demonstrated to create positive social impact in their own communities laid the foundations for The Reader’s transition to a volunteer-led model and informed the development of the volunteer support system which will be enhanced by this digital investment and rolled out nationwide.

If you would like further information on Shared Reading or how you can volunteer, please visit https://www.thereader.org.uk/volunteer

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Darllen ar y Cyd yn ehangu ledled y wlad o ganlyniad ariannu hael gan y Loteri Genedlaethol

Elusen genedlaethol i leihau ynysiad cymdeithasol, a helpu pobl a phroblemau iechyd meddwl a dementia trwy grwpiau darllen.

Mae The Reader, elusen genedlaethol gyda’r ddiben o gynnal cymdeithas iachach a chryfach trwy raglen Darllen ar y Cyd dan arweiniad gwirfoddolwyr, wedi derbyn £850, 000 o arian Lotri Genedlaethol gan y Gronfa Loteri Fawr.

Mae The Reader yn dwyn pobl ynghyd trwy Ddarllen ar y Cyd – model syml sy’n creu effaith gadarnhaol ar gyfer pobl sy’n byw ag ynysu cymdeithasol, materion iechyd meddwl neu ddementia. Gyda straeon a cherddi yn cael eu darllen ar lafar, mae ein grwpiau darllen wythnosol yn creu awyrgylch cyfeillgar a chroesawgar ble gellid rhannu syniadau a sylwadau. Gall aelodau’r grŵp ddarganfod ystyr personol yn y llenyddiaeth, gwella eu lles emosiynol, ac adeiladu cysylltiadau cymdeithasol gydag eraill, gan greu cymunedau cryfach a mwy cefnogol.

Mewn arolwg diweddar o brosiectau yn Llundain, Bristol ac ar draws y Gogledd-orllewin, adroddodd dros 90% o wirfoddolwyr The Reader fod eu profiadau o arwain grwpiau Darllen ar y Cyd wedi gwella eu lles personol, magu ymdeimlad o gyflawniad a gwneud iddynt deimlo’n fwy cysylltiedig â phobl eraill. Yn ogystal, mae 93% o bobl yn teimlo’n well ar ôl mynychu sesiwn Darllen ar y Cyd a 91% yn ddweud bod eu hyder a sgiliau cyfathrebu wedi gwella. Dywedodd un aelod o grŵp: “Mae’r grwpiau darllen yn fath o feddyginiaeth wahanol a trwyddynt dwi ‘di dod yn ôl i fywyd.”

Bydd grant y Loteri Genedlaethol yn rhedeg dros dair blynedd i gryfhau llwyfannau digidol, sianeli cyfathrebu ac adnoddau bydd yn helpu’r elusen gyrraedd mwy o bobl. Bydd hyn hefyd yn galluogi The Reader i recriwtio, hyfforddi a chefnogi dros 700 o wirfoddolwyr, yn ogystal â grymuso’r rhwydwaith bodianol ar draws gwahanol rannau o’r DU, i greu a thyfu cymunedau lleol a chefnogol ar gyfer pobl o bob oed a chefndir.

Trwy ddatblygu modelau newydd o bartneriaeth, bydd y prosiect yn gweithio gyda sefydliadau cymunedol sefydledig, megis The Bromley by Bow Centre, i sefydlu Darllen ar y Cyd yn eu gwasanaethau. Bydd The Reader yn dwyn Darllen ar y Cyd i’r rheini gall elwa fwyaf o’r cymorth cymdeithasol ac emosiynol gan ddarparu grwpiau wythnosol iddynt trwy weithio’n agos gyda meddygon teulu lleol, a gwasanaethau cymunedol, iechyd a llyfrgelloedd.

Dywedodd Jane Davis, Cyfarwyddwr The Reader: “Rydym wrth ein bodd i dderbyn arian y Loteri Genedlaethol, sydd yn fuddsoddiad mewn Darllen ar y Cyd a hefyd yn y bobl bydd yn arwain y mudiad hwn. Pobl sy’n gwneud i’r peth rhyfeddol hwn ddigwydd pan maent yn eistedd a darllen gyda’i gilydd. Cawsom ein hysbrydoli i roi gwirfoddolwyr yn flaenorol gan brosiect yn Merseyside a ariennid gan y Gronfa Loteri Fawr rhai blynyddoedd yn ôl, ac mae’n weddus yn awr, y bydd y grant hwn yn ein galluogi i wneud hyn ar draws y DU. “

Dywedodd Joe Ferns, Cyfarwyddwr Cyllid y DU ar gyfer y Gronfa Loteri Fawr: “Mae’r ymchwil a gynhaliwyd gan The Reader yn dangos y gwahaniaeth gall Darllen ar y Cyd cael ar gyfer gwirfoddolwyr ac aelodau grŵp, a dyma pam yr ydym yn falch i ariannu’r prosiect hwn i ehangu ledled y DU. Bydd yn rhoi cyfle i bobl wella eu sgiliau cymdeithasol a byw bywydau hapusach.

“Dan arweiniad nifer helaeth o wirfoddolwyr, bydd y prosiect hwn yn gwneud gwahaniaeth hanfodol i gymunedau, gan ddod â phobl o bob oed a chefndir at ei gilydd i feddwl yn wahanol a chael profiad o antur newydd drwy lygaid rhywun arall.”

Yn 2011, dechreuodd The Reader ar brosiect pum mlynedd, a ariennir gan y Gronfa Loteri Fawr, a wnaeth hyfforddi dros 280 o wirfoddolwyr i ddod â Darllen ar y Cyd i 2243 o bobl hŷn mewn cartrefi gofal a lleoliadau cymunedol ar draws Merseyside. Pan ddaeth y prosiect i ben mynegodd dros 80% o wirfoddolwyr eu bwriad i barhau i ddarllen gyda phobl hŷn yn eu cymunedau lleol. Yr angerdd ac ymrwymiad personol hwn gan wirfoddolwyr i greu effaith cymdeithasol cadarnhaol yn eu cymunedau eu hunain sydd wedi gosod y sylfaen i ni newid The Reader i fodel dan arweiniad gwirfoddolwyr, a datblygu system cymhorthi wirfoddolwyr bydd yn cael eu cynyddu gan y buddsoddiad digidol hwn a’i gyflwyno ledled y wlad.

Os hoffech gael rhagor o wybodaeth am Ddarllen ar y Cyd neu sut y gallwch wirfoddoli, gwelwch https://www.thereader.org.uk/

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Prinovis UK gift The Storybarn’s literary adventure to schoolchildren in Garston

Christmas came early for the pupils of Banks Road Primary Schools this week as The Reader’s Storyhunters brought the magic of The Storybarn into the classroom thanks to the sponsorship of Speke-based printing specialists, Prinovis UK.

As ongoing partners of The Reader and signatories to the National Literacy Trust’s Vision for Literacy Business Pledge, Prinovis UK funded a full day of Storybarn on the Road at the Garston Primary School meaning that every pupil had the opportunity to experience the thrilling interactive adventure with The Storyhunters in their own classroom.

Combining immersive storytelling with games, songs and creative play, The Storyhunters took up residence at The Reader’s interactive children’s story centre The Storybarn at Calderstones Park in March 2017. On Thursday 16 November, Storyhunters Hilly and Tilly brought bring seasonal part-storytelling, part interactive theatre experience to Bank Roads Primary as part of the new Storybarn on the Road initiative.

The Storybarn’s Annie Lord said:

“We’re thrilled to bring Storybarn on the Road to the pupils of Banks Road. Our Storyhunters bring stories to life and can find the magic to delight and inspire children wherever they go, thanks to Prinovis we can bring the adventure right into the classroom at Banks Road Primary!”

As signatories to the Vision for Literary Business Pledge, Prinovis UK are committed to raising literacy levels and boosting social mobility in Liverpool. Every year the team undertake a number of activities in partnership with The Reader to promote literacy and reading for pleasure among their staff and throughout the local community.

Matthew Cox of Prinovis UK said:

“We’re delighted to be working with The Reader to bring this incredible opportunity to children in the local area. We’re committed to our Vision for Literacy Pledge and see raising literacy levels and reading for pleasure as a way to change lives.”

Download the full press release.

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Major investment announced to improve the lives of children in the North West

The Reader, a national charity based in Liverpool, today announced a £373,000 investment from the Steve Morgan Foundation. The charity was thrilled to confirm that the investment, supporting their families programme, will significantly improve the life chances of children living across the North West.

Working with a range of partners across the region, The Reader aims to create engaging and enjoyable opportunities for children and families by building positive and rewarding relationships with books and reading. The Reader will forge vital partnerships with trusted organisations such as Home Start, who work directly with families and children in early years across the North West, The Reader will create a culture of ‘reading for pleasure’ by training and supporting partner staff, parents and parents-to-be in their pioneering Shared Reading model.

Jane Davis, director the The Reader said:

UNESCO tells us that ‘Reading for pleasure is one of the most important things that will make a child successful in life. If parents don’t read for pleasure themselves, perhaps facing their own literacy barriers, they are less likely to encourage their children to do so. Through our easy-to-access workshops, The Reader builds parents’ trust and confidence and helps them develop a new connection with reading, this in turn allows them to share reading with their families. We’ve seen what an incredible impact this can have for families, particularly those from disadvantaged areas, and now, with the support of the Steve Morgan Foundation, we can reach even more parents and children across the North West.

Jane Harris of the Steve Morgan Foundation said:

The focus of the Steve Morgan Foundation is to ensure that we are making a difference, this is exactly what our new partnership with The Reader will achieve. By investing in a three-year project we will enable The Reader and its partners to bring the joy and life-changing benefits of reading for pleasure to over 2000 families across the region.”

The Reader has a wealth of experience delivering Shared Reading in family settings such as children’s centres, foster homes and nurseries, and has repeatedly demonstrated that the informal, safe and inspiring approach of our model can inspire parents and improve the quality of families’ lives. As Amelia, a teenage mother from Birkenhead who attended The Reader’s Stories for You and Yours programme said: “Before I came here I wouldn’t even speak to her [daughter] if someone else was there. I love reading aloud to Kim now because I never used to.

Academic research has found that the reading skills of school leavers from disadvantaged backgrounds is, on average, two and a half years behind those from the most affluent homes. Research from the University of Oxford also found that adults who are out of work are twice as likely to have literacy problems and more likely to experience health problems such as depression. Considering this, the concentration of health and employment deprivation in the North West is a great concern for families in the region. Through this project, The Reader aims to get right to the root of the problem and significantly improve the quality of life of families in the region.

Throughout the three-year project, The Reader hopes to bring Shared Reading into the mainstream provision for children and families experiencing disadvantages, creating a legacy of opportunity that will benefit those who need it most for years to come.

Read the full press release.

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Festive fun at Calderstones with The Reader and Independent Liverpool

Following the success of September’s Courtyard Fair celebrating Heritage Open Days, The Reader and Independent Liverpool are once again joining forces for a special Christmas community event at Calderstones Park next month.

The Reader’s Christmas Courtyard Fair in partnership with Independent Liverpool on Saturday 2 December will be a bumper day of festive fun for all the family. Makers, creatives and small businesses from across the city will be selling their wares at a specially curated market including vintage, craft and local produce – perfect for Christmas shopping.

Visitors will also have the chance to see the Neolithic Calder Stones up close, find out more about The Reader’s refurbishment plans for the Georgian Mansion House and get creative with a variety of workshops making festive decorations and hand-crafted goods with The Reader’s Knit and Natter group.

Families can enjoy a variety of traditional games and activities, and there will be free storytelling sessions at The Storybarn, The Reader’s interactive story centre for children where The Storyhunters will be exploring a Winter Wonderland of poems and stories.

The day’s events will also include pop-up poetry, face painting, festive food, music and much more. Jane Davis, director of The Reader said:

“Everything we do at The Reader is about bringing people together and Christmas is the perfect opportunity for a community gathering at Calderstones. It will be a big week at The Reader as we attempt to raise vital funds to train and support 50 new volunteers who will bring Shared Reading to lonely older people here in Liverpool and right across the country. If visitors to The Christmas Courtyard Fair want to find out more they can come and talk to us about how they can double their donation and make a Christmas gift go even further!”

Running between Tuesday 28 November (Giving Tuesday) and November 5 December, The Reader are taking part in The Big Give Christmas Challenge. During this period, The Reader will be fundraising to support their work with socially isolated older people across the UK and every pound donated will be doubled by Big Give Supporters CHK Charities Limited and two individual donors.

Read the full Press Release here.

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Announcing South London Community of Readers in partnership with Postcode Support Trust

We’re delighted to share the news that, in partnership with Postcode Support Trust, we will be bringing Shared Reading groups to libraries and community settings across the South London area, supporting 40 volunteers to run 25 groups. 

The Shared Reading groups will build stronger communities, reduce social isolation and create opportunities for meaningful contact with others. Group members and Volunteers will also benefit from improved confidence and a greater connection with literature.

We will release details of opportunities with this project in the coming weeks. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to find out more.

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Celebrate heritage, creators and community with The Reader and Independent Liverpool

Announcing The Reader’s Courtyard Fair in partnership with Independent Liverpool, Calderstones Park, Saturday 9 September 2017

In partnership with Independent Liverpool, The Reader is delighted to announce a bumper programme of family fun, crafts and community activity to celebrate Heritage Open Days at Calderstones Park this September.

Showcasing the vibrant creative culture of the city, Independent Liverpool will bring a selection of their craft and retail partners, such as Jazz Stan and The Leather Satchel Co, to The Reader’s Courtyard Fair, alongside free family fun at The Storybarn and Ice Cream Parlour.

Independent Liverpool’s David Williams said:

“Over the last few years we’ve had the absolute pleasure of getting to know and supporting so many local artists, cheesemongers, candlemakers and more. Just about anything handmade and heartfelt. Liverpool is an incredible city with so much home talent and it’s going to be really special for us bringing that all together in one of our favourite parks in Liverpool. The chance to work in partnership with The Reader is also very important to us – they’re pretty much proof that not all heroes wear capes.”

The day’s events, which coincide with the national Heritage Open Days festival, will include guided tours exploring the rich history of Calderstones Park, incorporating a visit to the Mansion House Garden and the Neolithic Calder Stones currently housed in the Harthill Glasshouse. This will be the last opportunity for the public to view the stones and Mansion House in person before conservation and refurbishment work begins.

Visitors will also have an opportunity to learn more about the future of the Mansion House as The International Centre for Shared Reading with a first look at the architect’s impressions and information about how to get involved and support the charity’s work at Calderstones and the wider North West area.

Jane Davis, founder and director of The Reader said:

“At The Reader we consider ourselves very lucky to call this beautiful park home and to be part of such a wonderful local community. We have exciting plans for the future of the Mansion House but it’s so important to celebrate the history of the park too. This place is full of stories and we want to celebrate them through our Shared Reading activity here at Calderstones.

“Until the doors of The International Centre for Shared Reading are ready to open, days like this are a fantastic opportunity to bring everyone together and we’re thrilled to be partnering with Independent Liverpool to bring such a wonderful day to life!”

Families can enjoy free storytelling fun at The Storybarn with regular sessions with The Storyhunters throughout the day, the big children’s book swap (remember to bring along a book on the day), demonstrations and a workshop with our Knit and Natter group.

For those interested in learning more about The Reader’s recently announced Shared Reading North West project, the team will be welcoming visitors to join Shared Reading taster sessions and explore volunteering opportunities across the region.

George Hawkins, The Reader’s Heritage Manager, said:

“We are very excited to be part of Heritage Open Days again this year – it’s a fantastic opportunity for people to come together to celebrate the unique and ancient history of Calderstones Park, especially before our refurbishment work begins. Stories about the Allerton Oak and Jet the Rescue Dog may be well known to local residents but visitors from across the city and further afield may be surprised to discover so much history in one place! There will certainly be something for everyone.”

Limited parking will be available in the park’s public carparks so why not travel by bus? Plan your visit now with Merseytravel and Better by Bus:

http://www.merseytravel.gov.uk/
https://betterbybus.org/

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITOR

For further information, please contact: Emma Walsh, Communications Assistant, emmawalsh@thereader.org.uk 0151 729 2200 / 07565 816022

SOCIAL – @thereaderorg @calderstones #Calderstones #SharedReading @IndpndtLiv

About The Reader

The Reader is an award-winning, charitable social enterprise which brings people together, changes lives and builds communities through sharing great literature. Our unique Shared Reading model brings small groups together each week to read aloud a story and poem with group discussion led by a trained Reader Leader.

For over a decade The Reader has been working in partnership with CCGs, Public Health Bodies and NHS Trusts across the UK to support thousands of people with a wide range of health and social issues including, mental health conditions, dementia, chronic pain, isolation and recovery from substance misuse.

Whether delivered by volunteers, partner staff or Reader staff, Shared Reading offers people a practical way to improve well-being, build confidence and connect with others.

The recently announced Shared Reading North West campaign is a collaborative project between The Reader, Nesta and commissioning partners Halton Borough Council, Halton CCG, Knowsley CCG, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Well Halton and Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council as well as 30+ long-standing and new service delivery partners including library services, voluntary sector organisations, other charities and corporate organisations.

About The International Centre for Shared Reading

Since signing a 125 year lease for Calderstones Mansion House in 2014, The Reader have secured over £4 million in investment from Liverpool City Council, Heritage Lottery Fund and other trusts and funds to develop The International Centre for Shared Reading. On completion, The International Centre for Shared Reading will become a hub for Shared Reading and well-being activity, create new businesses and provide opportunities for people to reach their full potential through employment, volunteering and training.

Phase one of this development is now complete with The Reader Ice Cream Parlour opening in the Courtyard in 2015, followed by interactive children’s story centre, The Storybarn, the following year. We are now in phase two which includes a full refurbishment of the Mansion House and conservation work on the Neolithic Calder Stones.

About Independent Liverpool www.independent-liverpool.co.uk

Breaking free from the Chain Gangs, Independent Liverpool is about linking up all those little places that fill life’s little spaces. Funny how many of us go travelling all around the world, yet how often do any of us take the time or trouble to do our exploring closer to home?

Sure too, don’t we all know that it’s the little things that mark a moment, make a difference, that make you smile… The big idea of Independent Liverpool is to explore what the city has to offer, from the less well-known to the best kept secret gems that deserve a place in your heart. We’re looking beyond the uniform. And the uniforms. We’re searching for somewhere different, something unique, just like you, for you.

Our website sets out to showcase and highlight the diversity of taste and talent of the individual and the independent places that abound in the city if you care to take delve a little deeper and take a walk around the corner of your eye. We’ve spent the last 5 years writing a love letter to Liverpool and as a result have held events where tens and thousands of people regularly come.

This recently resulted in us officially getting our own warehouse based in the iconic Cain’s Brewery. It’s called Baltic Market and has 8 independent pop-up restaurants, a bar with local beer and alternating markets every Sunday.

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Shared Reading North West: For the community, by the community

40+ partners and 800 volunteers to join forces to transform North West health and well-being with innovative Shared Reading programme

The Reader, a national charity based in Liverpool’s Calderstones Park, has announced a major investment creating a new collaborative community-led strategy for the North West. Over the next two years, the Shared Reading North West campaign will create over 200 new Shared Reading groups, bringing the health and social benefits of Shared Reading to more than 2100 people in communities across the region.

Since 2008, The Reader has pioneered the use of Shared Reading to improve well-being, reduce social isolation and build resilience in diverse communities across the UK. This new programme will bring Shared Reading to many more people, training and supporting volunteers to run their own groups in their local areas – for the community by the community.

The Reader’s founder and director Jane Davis said:

“The Reader was born in the North West and we’ve worked with communities here for over a decade. It’s fantastic to bring those long-term commissioning partners together with brand new partners under the Shared Reading North West banner. With their support, and the people power of our growing family of Reader volunteers, we aim to make Shared Reading available for people in every community across the North West. Huge thanks must also go to Nesta and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for recognising the potential of Shared Reading through The Second Half Fund; their guidance and support is an incredible resource.” 

Supported by a growing family of commissioning partners including Knowsley CCG, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council and a collaboration between Halton Borough Council, Halton CCG and Well Halton, The Reader will train and support more than new 800 volunteers, with a particular focus on those aged over 50.

Working with commissioning partners, delivery partners and volunteers within their local communities, The Reader will establish hundreds of new Shared Reading groups across Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St. Helens, Warrington, Wigan and Wirral in diverse settings such as libraries, community centres, GP practices, health centres, hospitals, care homes and workplaces. The Reader has ambitious plans to grow this innovative approach to health and well-being further across the North West region over the next three years and invites partners to get in contact and get involved.

Crucial support for the project comes from innovation foundation Nesta and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport through The Second Half Fund. The Reader is one of 13 organisations selected to take part in the Second Half Fund, which was created to support the growth of innovations that mobilise the time and talents of people aged 50+ to help others, alongside public services.

Vicki Sellick, Director at Nesta, commented:

“We know we have much to gain from the considerable talents of people as they enter the second half of their lives, given freely alongside public services. By supporting these innovative social action projects to grow we know they will transform lives and make a significant impact on some of the biggest social challenges we face.” 

Dr David Fearnley, Medical Director at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust said:

“Shared Reading enables participants to feel differently about themselves and others – bringing shifts in perspective which are part of the process of developing mental wellness. Reading and reflecting together in a safe environment loosens default patterns of thinking, being and behaving, making it possible for all kinds of people to believe in their own capacity to be resilient or to change. I’m really proud to be part of this innovative work, which is a great example of the way in which traditional services can be supplemented by interventions that are based in the arts.”

Luciana Berger, Member of Parliament for Liverpool Wavertree and Patron of The Reader said:

“I’m delighted to welcome this initiative which will hugely increase the number of Shared Reading groups in the greater Merseyside and wider North West area. The Reader has been delivering these welcoming, easy-access groups across the region for more than ten years. I’ve had the privilege of meeting a number of group members and have heard first hand their remarkable stories about the positive effects of Shared Reading on well-being and mental health. I’m delighted that Nesta are backing The Reader with funding and much deserved support to further test the programme with a view to making the initiative national. This is a wonderful opportunity for Merseyside to pioneer a unique approach to community well-being, model collaborative working on a regional scale and establish itself as a leader of excellent and innovative practice.”

Frank Cottrell Boyce award-wining novelist and screenwriter, and Reader Patron said:

“Shared Reading groups provide companionship, structure, mental adventure and joy. They offer a way out of isolation, and depression. There should be one on every corner.”

Shared Reading North West is a great opportunity for the people of the North West to come together and build healthier, happier communities. There are a number of ways that individuals, companies and service providers across the North West can get involved. Get in touch and be part of the story:

  • Individuals can volunteer their time and skills with our flexible roles – Shared Reading Organiser, Shared Reading Advocate and Reader Leader. Volunteering with The Reader is an exciting and enriching experience that will connect you to a network of like-minded people. For more details visit our website to find your local Shared Reading Information Workshop.
  • If you are a business, charity or organisation interested in bringing Shared Reading to your workplace, setting or local community, speak to us about training and engagement opportunities.
  • If you are an organisation in the NHS, public sector or third sector and would like to bring Shared Reading to your service users, speak to us about how you can be part of the collaborative project.

    For more details email northwest@thereader.org.uk or call 0151 729 2200.


ENDS


NOTES TO EDITOR
For further information, please contact: Emma Walsh, Communications Assistant, emmawalsh@thereader.org.uk 07565 816 022


SOCIAL
@thereaderorg #SharedReading
@nesta_uk @DCMS

About The Reader www.thereader.org.uk

The Reader is an award-winning, charitable social enterprise which brings people together, changes lives and builds communities through sharing great literature. Our unique Shared Reading model brings small groups together each week to read aloud a story and poem with group discussion led by a trained Reader Leader. For over a decade The Reader has been working in partnership with CCGs, Public Health Bodies and NHS Trusts across the UK to support thousands of people with a wide range of health and social issues including, mental health conditions, dementia, chronic pain, isolation and recovery from substance misuse. Whether delivered by volunteers, partner staff or Reader staff, Shared Reading offers people a practical way to improve well-being, build confidence and connect with others. Shared Reading North West is a collaborative project between The Reader, commissioning partners Halton Borough Council, Halton CCG, Knowsley CCG, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Well Halton and Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council and 30+ long-standing and new service delivery partners including library services, voluntary sector organisations, other charities and corporate organisations.

About The Second Half Fund

At a time when people are living longer and research shows the benefits of volunteering in later life, the Second Half Fund from Nesta and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will help organisations tap into the time and talents of people over the age of 50. The projects funded will be recruiting volunteers into a wide variety of roles to grow their successful models and support more people across the country; from grandparents who act as a primary daytime carer to an under five year old, to teaching older people how to avoid and manage falls through innovative dance classes. Learning and insights from the projects will be shared throughout the Fund, with a final report published in early 2019. The organisations taking part in the Second Half Fund are:

  • FareShare
  • Volunteering Matters
  • Aesop Arts and Society
  • BuddyHub
  • St Joseph’s Hospice Hackney
  • Eden Project Ltd
  • The Reader
  • Home Start – Greater Manchester
  • Spice Time Credits 50+
  • Family Action
  • Volunteer It Yourself
  • St. John Ambulance
  • The Access Project

The Second Half Fund sits alongside a number of funds aiming to mobilise the time and talents of people aged 50+to meet specific social challenges. These include the Join In Stay In and Get More Give More funds. More details of these and their grantees is available at www.nesta.org.uk.

The funds follow on from Nesta and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s Centre for Social Action Innovation Fund which ran from 2013-16 and mobilised volunteers to work alongside public services. An evaluation of the 52 projects’ funded is available on the Nesta website and showed that it mobilised 70,000 volunteers to support 175,000 people. 

Download the full Press Release.

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Help isolated older people in your community 

Shared Reading brings a voice to the people who need it most 

A national charity based in Liverpool, has today invited applications from across the country, for a new training programme which aims to reduce social isolation and improve the mental health and well-being of older people. Fully-funded for two years, The Reader welcomes applications from community groups, individuals and small organisations who wish to bring their unique Shared Reading model to their community, creating something real and meaningful for isolated older residents.  

Shared Reading improves well-being, reduces social isolation and builds stronger communities, as one 95-year-old lady who read one-to-one with a Reader Volunteer in Wirral said: “It really brightens my day, because I don’t see anybody some days, so when the Reader Volunteer comes on a Tuesday morning, it brightens my week. We do something different, the poems and the stories we read are different each time and we have such a good discussion about them. It’s a one-to-one discussion – why we enjoyed it, what we think it’s all about, you really get to the bottom of it. It gives me something to think about, something extra to think about and I really, truly enjoy it.” 

In December 2016, The Reader launched a three-day fundraising campaign as part of the Big Give’s Christmas Challenge. Supported by The Pilgrim Trust and the Postcode Support Trust, The Reader raised over £50,000 and was named Best UK Charity in the Christmas Challenge Awards. This funding has already trained 15 new volunteer Reader Leaders and provided increased support and ongoing training for over 50 existing volunteers currently reading with older people at risk of social isolation. 

With the remaining funds, The Reader plans to create a new Shared Reading community in an area where they do not currently work. Under this new community-led project, The Reader will train 12 additional Reader Leaders and provide a bespoke programme of learning and support worth over £10,000. 

This is an exciting opportunity for passionate and motivated people to become part of a collaborative movement and build a long-term, sustainable Shared Reading community dedicated to supporting older people. All applicants must be able to self-fund any travel or accommodation costs incurred by attending the Read to Lead training course which will take place from Tuesday 29 to Thursday 31 August. The location of the course will be determined by the strength and spread of successful applications. 

For more information on how to apply, visit our website to become part of the story: www.thereader.org.uk/buildingcommunity  

ENDS 

NOTES TO EDITOR 

For further information, please contact: Martin Gallagher-Mitchell,  
Marketing & Communications Coordinator, martingallagher@thereader.org.uk 0151 729 2200 

SOCIAL 

@thereaderorg #SharedReading 

About The Reader www.thereader.org.uk 

The Reader is an award-winning, charitable social enterprise which brings people together, changes lives and builds communities through sharing great literature. Our unique Shared Reading model brings small groups together each week to read aloud a story and poem with group discussion led by a trained Reader Leader. 

For over a decade The Reader has been working in partnership with CCGs, Public Health Bodies and NHS Trusts across the UK to support thousands of people with a wide range of health and social issues including, mental health conditions, dementia, chronic pain, isolation and recovery from substance misuse. 

The Reader have trained over 5000 people to deliver Shared Reading groups in their workplace or community through our innovative Read to Lead programme. 

Whether delivered by volunteers or Reader staff, Shared Reading offers people a practical way to improve well-being, build confidence and connect with others. 

The Reader currently supports Shared Reading in the following communities: 

Bournemouth, Bristol, Croydon, Dorset, Halton, Knowsley, Leicestershire, Liverpool, North Wales, Poole, Sefton, Somerset, South Gloucestershire, St Helens, Warrington, West London, Wigan, Wiltshire, and Wirral. 

For further information on these volunteer-led projects please visit our website: http://www.thereader.org.uk/getinvolved/volunteer/

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The Reader feature in APPG Arts, Health & Wellbeing report

“The time has come to recognise the powerful contribution the arts can make to our health and wellbeing.”

So reads the opening lines of a recent report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Arts, Health and Wellbeing, which features the work of The Reader. Presenting two years of research, evidence-gathering and discussions with key individuals from across the spectrum of arts and health, the report includes personal testimonies and professional thinking from across a range of arts organisations.

Hoping to challenge habitual thinking about arts and health, and to encourage collaborations beyond conventional boundaries, the APPG for Arts Health and Wellbeing present evidence to support how arts-based approaches help people stay well, recover faster, manage long-term conditions and experience a better quality of life.

Reflecting on the health and social benefits of Shared Reading, the report states that Participants recognise in great literature experiences in their own lives, and, in sharing and discussing these with fellow-participants, they gain insight and mutual support.”

“CRILS has established the value of shared reading for mental
health, particularly depression and dementia. Researchers have also explored the benefits of literature for mental agility and emotional
flexibility and found it to bridge the gap between a current unwell self and a past healthy self, enabling integration of fragmented parts of the self into a functioning whole.”

Read the Full Report.

Read the Short Report.

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The Reader to receive Arts Council funding as National Portfolio Organisation

Earlier today The Reader was announced as one of 183 new organisations to receive National Portfolio funding from Arts Council England.

The Reader, a national charity based in Liverpool’s Calderstones Park, will receive £175,000 per year between 2018 and 2022. This funding will support the charity’s ongoing work to bring the social and health benefits of Shared Reading to communities across the UK.

Arts Council England drew attention to The Reader’s ability to reach those communities less likely to engage with the arts and to provide opportunities for children and young people to experience the richness of the arts, museums and libraries.

The Reader’s founder and director Jane Davis said: “We’re delighted to have this backing from Arts Council England. It’s hugely welcome – it will make it possible for us to grow Shared Reading in communities across the UK, but the honour of joining the family of National Portfolio Organisations is absolutely overwhelming. We are so proud to find ourselves alongside so many wonderful arts organisations that we know, love and respect, both here in the North West and across the country. We’re looking forward to growing the reading revolution across the country and developing The International Centre for Shared Reading here in Liverpool – we hope to invite our NPO brothers and sisters to visit very soon!”

Jane Beardsworth, Director North, Arts Council England said: “The Reader promotes the enjoyment of reading to everybody and explores the impact that the type of literature we read has on us as readers. We’re pleased to welcome it as a national portfolio organisation.”

 Arts Council England deliberately focussed on supporting arts organisations outside of London and the £700,000 in total funds committed to The Reader will help to support the growth of Shared Reading activity at The International Centre for Shared Reading, due to open in Liverpool in 2018.

The Reader is among 230 Northern organisations that will benefit from £414 million investment in the region and one of several literature-based arts organisations to be announced in the 2018 – 2022 portfolio.

Sarah Maxfield, North Area Director, Arts Council England said: “Our new portfolio in the North will reach more people in more places. Culture has a role to play in all our communities from the major cities to the North’s most rural areas – it brings us together, provides joy and solace, and builds a sense of identity – and contributes to our economy too. I’m delighted that we have the opportunity to support such a range of excellent cultural organisations delivering to audiences and participants across the North. Our increased investment will mean that these organisations will be able to deliver great arts and cultural experiences for audiences and participants across the whole area.”

ENDS

About The Reader www.thereader.org.uk

The Reader is an award-winning, charitable social enterprise which brings people together, changes lives and builds communities through sharing great literature. Our unique Shared Reading model brings small groups together each week to read aloud a story and poem with group discussion led by a trained Reader Leader.

For over a decade The Reader has been working in partnership with CCGs, Public Health Bodies and NHS Trusts across the UK to support thousands of people with a wide range of health and social issues including, mental health conditions, dementia, chronic pain, isolation and recovery from substance misuse.

Whether delivered by volunteers or Reader staff, Shared Reading offers people a practical way to improve well-being, build confidence and connect with others.

About Arts Council England www.artscouncil.org.uk

Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections.

Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. We invest public money from government and the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

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The Reader tackle social isolation amongst elderly in Croydon

Press Release by City Bridge Trust:

A charity that brings people together through group reading has been given £88,000 to set up 15 new reading groups in Croydon, with the end goal of expanding into a London-wide network.

The City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, City Bridge Trust, has given £87,996 to The Reader to set up reading groups for over 75s in a three year project in Croydon.

The Reader believes that older people in London are more likely to live alone, in poverty and lack family support networks compared to elsewhere in the UK. The focus of this project will therefore be the prevention of isolation and building of positive social networks for over-75’s.

With the funding, the project aims to establish 15 reading groups reaching 243 members, run 965 sessions, train 24 volunteers and 2 local organisers, helping over 5000 residents.

The programme will offer 1:1 sessions as well as group activities, which include reading aloud and listening to poems and stories.

Alison Gowman, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, said:

“In 2015 the charity reached over 12,000 people proving it is already changing lives, but there is scope to do even more and target some of the most vulnerable members of society.

“This programme in Croydon will allow for meaningful, face-to-face socialising with other residents in the community, reducing loneliness, improving wellbeing and enhancing quality of life.

“City Bridge Trust is committed to tackling disadvantage across the capital and making London a fairer and better place to live.”

Jane Davis, Founder and Director of The Reader, added:

“This exciting new partnership with City Bridge Trust will bring volunteer-led Shared Reading groups to the over-75 community in Croydon. Social isolation and poor mental health are such big concerns across the UK, particularly among those who are older, and this project will make a real difference.

“At The Reader, we’re building a network of volunteers to help us get Shared Reading into the lives of those who need it most, in every corner of the UK.”

City Bridge Trust is London’s biggest independent grant giver, making grants of £20 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital. The Trust has awarded around 7,500 grants totalling over £360 million since it first began in 1995. It helps achieve the Corporation’s aim of changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners.

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Following Storm Doris damage, The Reader’s Storybarn announces new interactive family experience

Last month The Reader was devastated to confirm that the damage Storm Doris inflicted on Michael Rosen’s Bear Hunt, Chocolate Cake & Bad Things exhibition at Liverpool ONE was too extensive to allow the experience to continue. Today, the team are thrilled to announce that The Storyhunters, a new family adventure is set to launch in time for the Easter School Holidays.

Part interactive theatre show, part literature-based experience, families will become Storyhunters as they set off on an indoor / outdoor storytelling adventure in the heart of Liverpool’s Calderstones Park.

Beginning on Friday, April 7, these sessions are specially developed for children aged two to eight and their families. Sessions, which include a mix of stories, songs and crafting activities, will begin in The Storybarn but will also see families setting out across the park on the hunt for the “story clues”.

Jane Davis, The Reader’s founder and director said:

“We want to say a huge thank you everyone who got in touch following the devastation Doris caused. We received hundreds of messages of support from people across the Liverpool City Region and beyond and a number of generous donations including one from a Reader in New York! We are thrilled to be able to offer an alternative literature-based event at our headquarters in Calderstones – we can’t wait to see families become The Storyhunters!

“It’s been a busy week for The Reader, we announced our plans to refurbish and transform Calderstones Mansion House into The International Centre for Shared Reading and The Storybarn is key to the project’s ambitions. Over the last year we welcomed more than 16,500 people through our big barn doors – kick-starting a life-long love of reading for pleasure for little readers and future leaders.”

Tickets for The Storyhunters are only £4 per person and are available to pre-book now at http://thestorybarn.org.uk/storyhunters/

Download the full Press Release.

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Work begins to transform Calderstones Mansion into The International Centre for Shared Reading

Until the House is built

And then the Props withdraw

And adequate, erect,

The House supports itself…

Emily Dickinson, The Props Assist the House

The Reader today announced that work to refurbish and transform Liverpool’s Calderstones Mansion into The International Centre for Shared Reading is underway. The charity, which aims to get great literature into the hands of people who need it most, has been based in the Grade II-listed building in the heart of the city’s Calderstones Park since September 2014 and has already invested in Calderstones, creating jobs, volunteer roles and training opportunities.

Phase One of the ambitious project has seen The Reader Café, based in The Mansion House go from strength to strength, while the barn and stables have been brought back to life with the dilapidated buildings being fully refurbished. Regular visitors to the park will know that the old barn is now home to The Storybarn, a much-loved children’s literature centre while the stables now house The Reader Ice Cream Parlour, a new social enterprise.

Running until Spring 2018, Phase Two of the project – supported by National Lottery players through a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of just under £2million – will see The Mansion House close to allow much-needed repairs to be completed; while The Calder Stones, the internationally important Neolithic monuments which give the park its name, will be temporarily taken off-site for extensive conservation.

The design team appointed to complete the works include Liverpool-based architects Austin-Smith:Lord who have previously worked on projects at The Bluecoat and Kew Gardens; Todd & Ledson, project management and cost consultants, whose heritage experience includes the transformation of Liverpool’s Grade II-listed Royal Insurance Building; engineers Charles Andrews who have previously worked on Manchester’s Exchange Quay and structural engineers and awardwinning built environment specialist Curtins Consultancy.

The first major public events of the transformative project are set to take place this summer when the Neolithic Calder Stones, currently standing in a glasshouse in the park will be removed and transported off-site to undergo a full restoration process. When they return to the site they are set to take pride of place at the centre of a new heritage offer at The International Centre for Shared Reading. The Reader hopes to keep disruption for the local community to a minimum, provision will be made so that all services including Shared Reading groups can continue.

Dr Jane Davis, Founder and Director of The Reader said:

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create something truly special at Calderstones. The International Centre for Shared Reading will benefit communities across the Liverpool City Region and beyond.

“Since 2014 we’ve welcomed visitors from all over the world including South Korea, Australia, Germany and Scandinavia to discuss the benefits of Shared Reading. We’ve created The Storybarn to kick-start a life-long love of reading for pleasure for children across the North West and our outreach projects continue to grow, bringing together all kinds of people to build stronger communities.

“We’re delighted with the support we have received from Liverpool City Council, Heritage Lottery Fund and our other funding partners.”

In December 2015, The Reader secured a grant of £1.9million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), in March 2016 Liverpool City Council agreed to match the funding with a repayable grant of up to £2.1million. Fundraising for the refurbishment continues, if you are able to support this ambitious project get in touch and be part of the story, find out more at http://calderstones.thereader.org.uk.

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson said:

“The Reader’s vision for Calderstones is extremely exciting and it is fantastic to see work to sympathetically restore the Mansion getting underway.

“The Reader do the most incredible educational work and The International Centre for Shared Reading will be a major attraction at the heart of one of our most beautiful parks. We are absolutely delighted to be supporting them with the project.”

Download the full Press Release here.

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