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Connecting People to the Arts Through Social Prescribing 

Written by Rachael Norris, 7th September 2020

Earlier this month, The Reader was invited to speak at the NHSE Social Prescribing Webinar – Connecting People to the Arts Through Social Prescribing. 

Brought together by Aesop (Arts Enterprise with a Social Purpose), we were extremely grateful to be given the platform to talk about how our work has evolved during the crisis alongside arts organisations who are working to improve health and wellbeing. 

Speakers included Dance to Health, a pioneering nationwide dance programme to prevent falls amongst older people and Stephen Clift Emeritus Professor of Health Education, Canterbury Christ Church University. 

The event aimed to discuss how COVID-19 has affected the arts sector and shine a light on the evidence base for arts improving health and wellbeing. 

Michelle Barrett, Liverpool Hub Leader at The Reader was invited to speak at the online event where over 400 people took part including social prescribing link workers and other organisations engaged in arts in health. 

At The Reader, our work has been impacted due to the pandemic, with all face to face  Shared Reading groups currently on hold. However, we’ve moved  a lot of services online and have created alternative ways to provide the comfort and connection of Shared Reading  . This has meant we’ve also been able to reach new people who cant typically join physical sessions.  

As part of our alternative provision we’re offering: 

We believe Shared Reading can help everyone to live wellAll backgrounds, ages and abilities are welcome in our groups – from those with low wellbeing to those with more complex health needs. The Reader is commissioned by a range of CCGs, NHS Trusts, public health bodies and other charitable funders and national bodies like Arts Council England. 

We monitor impact on our group members and volunteers and we've built up a collection of research with academic partners that demonstrates the impact. Our findings* show that 94% of Readers look forward to the group as an important event in their week, 91% of Readers report that the reading sessions make them feel better and 84% of Readers have made new friends within the group. 

There are lots of different ways that people can discover and join a Shared Reading group – people can self-refer and just show up on the day or they can be prescribed by their link worker or pathway advisor. 

If you'd like to know more about The Reader’s work in social prescribing, wherever you are,please email  

To find out more about The Reader’s online services visit The Reader at Home page or email 

* during Feedback Week (2017 – 2019)  

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