Our History


Jane Davis spends 15 years as a part-time teacher at University of Liverpool, developing the practice that would eventually lead to Shared Reading.


Jane delivers first Shared Reading group in Birkenhead. Readers include those with little or no experience of reading or literature who report inspiring personal journeys.


Paul Hamlyn Foundation support development of the idea with a grant for £89,000, enabling Jane to employ a small team to roll out Shared Reading in Wirral.


The Reader is commissioned by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust. Dr David Fearnley, Medical Director, later describes Shared Reading as “One of the most significant developments to have taken place in mental health practice in the last ten years.”


The Reader spins out from The University of Liverpool becoming a separate entity in its own right and securing charitable status – entering a phase of new and rapid growth.

The Reader develops and rolls out Read to Lead, the flagship training course that has since trained over 5000 people to start delivering Shared Reading groups.


The Reader continues its national expansion delivering groups in London for the first time.


First of our European projects begins in Denmark (later followed by Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany).


Big Lottery Fund support project to deliver Shared Reading with volunteers enabling rapid expansion of projects across Merseyside and putting in place structured volunteer recruitment and training systems. This project goes on to reach 300 volunteer delivering 30,000+ reading experiences over five years.


A major volunteer-led Shared Reading programme, supported by the Big Lottery Fund, starts in North Wales.


The Reader delivers its first bilingual project and volunteer-led projects in North Wales and Merseyside continue to evolve with community champions in locations such as libraries and community centres delivering successful groups.


The Reader signs 125 lease for previously derelict Calderstones Mansion House to develop The International Centre for Shared Reading in Liverpool.


The Reader Academy is born reflecting increased emphasis on training and learning.


The Reader wins ground breaking contract to deliver Shared Reading in all prisons across Northern Ireland in the first tender of its kind.


The Reader enters exciting new phase to develop national network approach to grow our impact sustainably, with partners and communities at the heart of the movement.

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