Reader Story: Tom, Wirral

“If you told me this time last year “you’ll be reading poems and enjoying it” I would have said “stop talking crap!” But I love the poems now – I can’t believe I’ve gone from a group member to an assistant and am about to do the admin training… it’s just all ballooning out for me!”

Tom* is a member of a Shared Reading group in Wirral, and completed The Reader’s Big Lottery funded training to become a Shared Reading group assistant volunteer.

We met to discuss his Personal Development Plan from the training course, detailing any progress to date and possible goals for the future. During our conversation Tom confessed he was suicidal this time last year, but feels volunteering and being a group member has provided the necessary support and opportunities to help him come out of this difficult period in his life. Tom has recently requested to complete our admin assistant training programme, to gain new skills and improve his future job prospects. He had this to say about Shared Reading:

“I came to Shared Reading through St Cath’s Church in Tranmere originally. I felt nervous at first, it’s not something I’d done before, but it was such a friendly group – with tea and biscuits and everything – it was a good way to break down the barriers. I’ve noticed a vast difference [since I’ve started coming to the groups]; I used to be on anti-depressants but because of getting out and getting stuck into a book I’m off them now. It’s so much better than being stuck on tablets, health-wise I’m so much better because of it.

I’m still shy but I’ve got so much more confidence, I don’t mind voicing my opinion and don’t worry about being made a fool of now. I’m really pleased I’ve started coming. I was on the verge of suicide last year and now I’m a completely different person. If you told me this time last year “you’ll be reading poems and enjoying it” I would have said “stop talking crap!” But I love the poems now – I can’t believe I’ve gone from a group member to an assistant and am about to do the admin training… it’s just all ballooning out for me!”


*Please note, all Reader Stories are anonymised

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