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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.