Health and Community

Reading for Resilience

Across the UK, on hospital wards and in communities, The Reader is changing lives through our unique Shared Reading groups. Working closesly with CCGs, Public Health Bodies and NHS Trusts, we support people to live well both in the community and in health settings such as care homes, hospitals, mental health facilities and substance misuse centres. 
Shared Reading offers individuals a practical way to improve their well-being, providing a space where people can connect with their own thoughts and understand one another better.

“The Reader’s approach has the power to transform the lives of the people that we see day after day at our surgery – those that are stuck, perhaps with low mood or who are socially isolated – these are people for whom another tablet is not going to make a difference.”
Dr Helen Willows, GP, North Shropshire

Shared Reading fits into NEF’s Five Ways to Well-being – making social connections, noticing, learning and giving to others through volunteering. It’s a good way to feel good and has huge benefits – I recommend it to my patients all the time.”
Dr Rajive Mitra, GP Partner, Lambeth Walk Group Practice

Shared Reading in the community

We have been delivering Shared Reading projects for over a decade in community centres, libraries and in local areas partnering with health services through a social prescription model.

We reach a wide range of people of all ages, reading abilities and backgrounds, improving well-being, increasing social engagement and broadening cultural horizons.

Individuals report far reaching health benefits and amazing personal journeys. At community level our groups reinforce the role of the library in supporting stronger, healthier, more resilient communities.

The reading groups are a different kind of medicine and it’s through them that I’ve found a way back to life.”
Daniel, Shared Reading group member

The UK is facing, perhaps more than ever before, a hugely challenging health landscape. The need is clear – with 1 in 5 older people in the community suffering depression, 29% of households consisting of one person living alone as well as 1 in 4 British adults experiencing a diagnosed mental health problem in any one year.

The Reader mobilises community assets to meet these challenges head on. Analysis by John Moores University finds that that for every £1 invested in Shared Reading, an average of £6.47 was generated to users’ health and well- being.

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Shared Reading in health settings

We have helped thousands of people with a wide range of health and social issues including mental health conditions, dementia, chronic pain, isolation and recovery from substance mis-use, as well as children and young people.

You may think The Reader is all about reading, but it is really all about health.
Dr Jack Czauderna, Chair, Pioneer Health Foundation

We have a growing body of evaluation data including academic research and personal and professional testimony that attests to the impact our groups have on peoples’ well-being.

Shared Reading is one of the most significant developments to have taken place in mental health practice in the last ten years.
Dr David Fearnley, Medical Director at Mersey Care NHS Trust and Associate National Clinical Director for Mental Health Secure Services for NHS England

Recognising the increasingly challenging resource environment, our community-led delivery model is designed to generate maximum impact in the most cost effective way. Our programme involves flexible training and ongoing support which can be tailored to meet your needs.

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Physical Health

We work at GP surgeries and in hospitals with people experiencing long-term physical health problems, including chronic pain. Recent research conducted by Liverpool University in conjunction with The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital Trust has shown that Shared Reading has a positive effect in alleviation of pain symptoms and psychological well-being.

The Trust has now commissioned The Reader to run weekly Shared Reading sessions for the next five years and further research is planned.

One of the problems of having chronic pain is you tend to get depressed… coming to the reading group is like therapy. When I go home from here I have a spring in my step.
Shared Reading group member, Broadgreen Hospital

Mental Health

Shared Reading provides meaningful, accessible, activity in a wide range of mental health settings, from acute in-patient and secure personality disorder units, to library and community groups. Our work combats isolation, improves well- being and we have a growing body of evidence to suggest that our model has therapeutic benefits.

Clinical data from Liverpool Health Inequalities Research Institute shows a significant improvement in the mental health of depressed patients during the 12-month period in which they were attending Shared Reading groups.

One of 35 National Health Trusts who commission our work, Mersey Care NHS Trust has recently extended our partnership for a further three years taking our long-term relationship to more than ten years of highly-regarded Shared Reading with service users across the Liverpool City Region.

The reading group was a gateway for me, an open door and a social solution. I was on anti-depressants for years but I don’t need them anymore. If I hadn’t found The Reader I’d be dead, honestly.
Shared Reading group member


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Substance Mis-use

Shared Reading has been changing lives in drug and alcohol recovery services across the UK since 2007. We partner with various organisations including The Harbour in Brixton and Greater Manchester West NHS Foundation Mental Health Trust to provide a programme of weekly groups in inpatient settings as well as community and housing association groups.

The groups challenge those in recovery to extend and develop their ideas and responses, express thoughts in a group for the first time and take on board and sensitively discuss views different from their own.

Participants have reported a variety of positive outcomes including reduced stress, greater confidence and self esteem and improved well-being.

“The Reader’s given me hope – I’ve got belief in myself again. It’s given me that drive to be able to think, you know, I can do this.”
Man in Recovery, now a Shared Reading volunteer


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Our work aligns with the government’s national strategy Living well with Dementia and provides high quality treatment at whatever stage of the illness and in whatever setting. We currently partner with a number of organisations including Knowsley Public Health to delivery weekly groups that support people living with dementia in both community settings and care homes.

With nearly a decade of experience, evaluation of our Shared Reading work with those living with dementia has shown positive improvements in mood, concentration and social interaction as well as reduction in agitation for readers.

Most of the time we are lonely, but when you share in this group, it’s as if you are composing another world around you. You come out of here and you feel fulfilled, filled up.
Shared Reading group member at North London Care Home

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