I was first introduced to The Reader Organisation, approximately 2 years ago by the Social Partnership, based in Seacombe. Rachel, the facilitator, was reading ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest’. It was an enlightening experience and soon felt confident enough to read the occasional passage. After two or three months I was unable to attend for 2 weeks which meant I lost the thread of the story, I even unsuccessfully tried to borrow the book from the local library.
Last August I started at Arch Aftercare, where a small reading group had recently been established, usually attended by 2 to 4 people, a similar open format was employed but instead of a novel Lynn brought a short story and a related poem, each week. Over the months the group has grown top the extent that we have now introduced a group ceiling of 15 members each week.
The group has gone from strength to strength and it has been wonderful to see how the various members, including myself, have increased their confidence and enjoyment of literature. It was encouraging to realise that your opinion counts.
After about 3 months, Lynn explained The Reader Organisation aims to increase the number of local groups both in libraries and also in residential homes and asked if I was interested in volunteering.
I attended 4 half day training sessions, which were well structured, contained both practical and theoretical sessions, which were following by being invited to observe a member of staff deliver a reading session, specifically for people suffering from dementia.
Two weeks later I started my own group, following the Aftercare format of a short story and a poem, reading for 1 hour per week in a residential home reading to 4 to 8 residents. My level of self confidence has improved to the extent that two weeks ago the home had a fund raising afternoon, which coincided with my visit, therefore, I finished reading to all 20 residents and an equal number of guests. A couple of the guests inquired about the reading organisation, expressed an interested in attending a similar group and one lady asked about how to volunteer to facilitate a group.
I also liaise with the Activities Co-ordinator and leave a ‘Poem of the Week’ to be posted on the residents notice board. The residents have expressed their thanks on numerous occasions and have even said the reading session is the high-light of the week.
There is also the opportunity to attend additional activities, which have included the Penny Readings, a poetry reading by Andrew Motion, a recent visit to the Liverpool Playhouse to see ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ and next a Dickens evening.
I have also volunteered to assist on the refreshment stall at the Penny Readings.
The Reader magazine offers a mix of new poetry and fiction, classic and neglected works and interviews with leading literary figures.
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