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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