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Project Story: Northwest Mental Health Reader in Residencies

In September 2012, The Reader Organisation was commissioned to deliver part-time Reader in Residencies in the six mental health trusts that did not already have such projects:  Cheshire and Wirral Partnership Trust, Calderstones Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Cumbria Partnership Trust, Manchester Health and Social Care Trust, Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, and Lancashire Mental Health Trust.  The chief aim of the project was to improve service user experience and wellbeing, through the provision of 24 weekly Shared Reading groups, reaching 400 people, over a period of 6 months. 

The project was universally greeted with enthusiasm, and staff at all levels were incredibly generous in helping us plan, recruit and deliver the groups.  As a result, we managed to reach and exceed our targets for group and beneficiary numbers within the timescale, running 25 reading groups, and reaching 444 individuals.

The evaluation outcomes also exceeded expectations, often by as much as 10%.  Given that the intention of the project was to improve service user experience by reducing boredom and offering meaningful activity, certain statistics stand out: 

  • 84% of service users said reading improved their mood
  • 98% said the groups gave them a chance to take part in interesting discussions
  • 100% enjoyed reading the stories and poems

T's Reader Story's, North Manchester General Hospital

Manchester Health and Social Care Trust Reader in Residence Steffi Camm tells T's Reader Story:

T is a male on Cedar Ward who is usually very aggressive and distressed. On the morning of the group, he was on a 2:1 because he was ‘punching out and shouting at the staff’. He came in to the group, sat down and his focus was completely on the poem throughout. He was calm, reflective, and had read the whole of Wordsworth’s ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ aloud in a wonderfully clear voice.

We were talking about places that we can remember that made us happy, and T told the story of going on picnics with his Mum, Dad and sister in Belle Vue.  By the end of the group, he only had one staff member with him, and showed no signs of aggression, upset, or distress.

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