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After almost a decade Shared Reading in Greater Manchester mental health wards, The Reader is rolling out to local communities in Salford

Written by Rachael Norris, 30th May 2019

The Reader is looking for people to train to read great literature aloud in their local community – join us for a ‘taster' on 19 June

National charity The Reader is on the hunt for people in Salford to join a transformative training programme that will prepare them to lead Shared Reading groups locally.  

Shared Reading – bringing great novels, poems and plays to life through live reading aloud and group discussion – is a powerful group experience that sparks connection, reflection and discovery.

By creating space for people of all backgrounds and life situations to explore their inner lives and develop meaningful relationships with others, Shared Reading promotes confidence, improves wellbeing and builds communities.

Last year, The Reader trained 22 volunteers to read aloud with people in Greater Manchester mental health wards, including people who had been patients there themselves.

Now, after almost a decade working with Greater Manchester Mental Health, this project is being extended to the wider community, so even more volunteers and readers can benefit.

In The Reader’s latest Feedback Week survey of more than 1,500 Readers across the UK:

  • 94% said they look forward their Shared Reading group ‘as an important event in my week’.
  • 91% said ‘the reading sessions make me feel better’            .
  • 84% said they’ve made new friends in the group.

In mental health support groups:

  • 92% said they feel safe and welcomed in the group
  • 85% said they feel valued
  • 85% said the ‘group gave me something different to think about’

The training will take place in late June or early September at The Angel Centre near Salford Central Station, with plans for 10 new groups started over the course of the year.

People who are interested in finding out more can come to our next Shared Reading Taster event on Wednesday 19 June, 10.30am – 12noon at The Energise Centre in Lower Broughton.

The Reader already supports more than 500 Shared Reading groups to happen up and down the country each week thanks to a growing movement of 1,000 volunteers. They commit four hours each week to preparing, delivering and recording some basic details from their group.

“We’ve been working in mental health for almost 20 years and we’re delighted that looking after this has now become more of an ‘everyday conversation’.

“Whether as a Reader Leader or a group member, Shared Reading is a tool that can help people to carve out that rare time and space in which we can create human connections, connect with ourselves and engage with meaningful thoughts in a unique, powerful way.

“Great literature speaks to all parts of us, not just that which is sick. Poetry can remind us of parts of ourselves there’s all possibility we had forgotten.”

A spokesperson from Greater Manchester Mental Health told us that he believes “creative reading together creates a shared sense of experience, opportunity to be real and talk about real feelings. It helps with a sense of hope for the future and a sense of valuing your own personal experience, your own lived experience, and how important it is.”

A volunteer in Greater Manchester said: “Out of all the groups I do, it's the easiest for me emotionally and mentally because of the enjoyment I get from it; there's something special about reading. It does help my mental wellbeing”.

Volunteers receive a fully funded, three-day training course and ongoing support from The Reader.

To get involved, fill out the online form at www.thereader.org.uk/volunteer or email volunteer@thereader.org.uk. 

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