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The Reader Organisation's National Conference

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The Reader Organisation's annual national conference provides the opportunity for commisioners, practitioners and professionals to explore the impact of shared reading.

The Reader Organisation's National Conference 2014

'Better with a Book: Exploring the Relationship between Literature and Mental Health'

Taking place on Thursday 15th May 2014, The Reader Organisation’s fifth annual national conference explored how the unique shared reading model pioneered by The Reader Organisation uses literature to improve mental health, reduce social isolation and enhance quality of life.

Guest speakers included Lord Melvyn Bragg, who spoke about his novel Grace and Mary based on his mother's experience with dementia and his life as a reader, Baroness Estelle Morris and Dr Alice Sullivan from the Institute of Education who discussed the role of reading in schools, and Nick Benefield, Lord Alan Howarth and Lord David Ramsbotham, examining the effect of shared reading in secure mental health settings.



We also heard firsthand the personal, inspiring and moving stories from some of our Readers who shared the effects reading has had on their lives.

Our Twitter hashtag #betterwithabook was buzzing on the day with comments from enthused delegates:

Excellent conference! Powerful testimonies heard about power of reading.

such transformation in people’s lives has happened through reading groups!

The Reader the best conference I have ever attended! Inspirational!

Read a full account of the day over on The Reader Online:

See pictures from Better with a Book on our Flickr page:

Shared reading groups currently take place every week in health, criminal justice, community, and education settings across the UK, providing individuals with the tools to transform their relationship to themselves and one another.

“Literature and poetry have helped me to cope with what is going on in my life”

Academic research into The Reader Organisation’s projects has demonstrated statistically significant improvements in the mental health of those suffering mild to moderate depression, reduced agitation for those suffering with dementia, and improved emotional, social and educational wellbeing for women in prison.


2013 Conference

Our 2013 Conference, Shared Reading for Healthy Communities, offered an invaluable opportunity for commissioners, practitioners, and leaders from across public and mental health, criminal justice, social care, community and education services, and professionals from the private and third sector, to examine the impact of shared reading projects as a whole population approach in the context of national policies and strategies.

Speakers included Andy Burnham MP (Shadow Secretary of State for Health), Professor Louis Appleby (National Clinical Director for Offender Health and Chair of the National Suicide Prevention Advisory Group, University of Manchester), Alan Yates (Director at Unique Health Solutions Ltd, former Chief Executive of Mersey Care NHS Trust), Ciara Eastell (Head of Libraries, Culture and Heritage, Devon Libraries) and Dirk Terryn (Literature and Media, Canon Cultuurcel)

The morning, ‘Healthy People’, focused on public health, mental health and dementia care; the afternoon, ‘Connected Communities’, focused on criminal justice, education and young people, libraries and our research.

See what happened at the 2013 Conference on our blog.

What former Conference attendees said:

 “Entertaining, informing and challenging – the best presentation by academics I have ever seen”

“Inspirational stuff”

“The day as a whole was great – an inspiring and fascinating examination of the power of reading”

“Food for the soul”


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