‘I can honestly say my mental health has improved more from this than all the medical assistance put together.’
Damien has been reading with us on the Wirral for more than a decade. Here he tells us why.
The reading groups mean a great deal to me and I have benefited enormously from my regular, weekly attendance. I started with reading groups (I prefer to call them reading clubs!) over 12 years ago after an advertising leaflet came through our letterbox.
Initially, we met at a local community centre and only three of us went – the group leader, myself and my next-door neighbour.
Over the next few weeks, it grew and grew, and many interesting people have come and gone over the years.
A lot of people who live alone attend and this helps to bring the community together. Because the reading groups are free and open to all comers, a wide variety of fascinating people attend that you would not usually bump into.
One volunteer reads aloud while others listen and follow what is being read from their own copy of the book, which the leader provides. Everyone is in step with other members and thus this method holds everyone together. Members are often able to relate their own life experiences to what is being read.
The group is a very good way to get to know others quickly because of the exchange of different views, opinions and experiences.
It is a great, mind-broadening experience and often my own views are challenged.
A lot can be learned about yourself and basic human nature.
I am dyslexic, and this makes reading and writing difficult for me, but this is improving. Since adolescence I have suffered from anxiety and depression.
Over the decades I have attended hospitals, visited doctors, and tried many kinds of therapies and drugs. But I can honestly say that my mental health has improved more by regularly attending the reading clubs than all the medical assistance put together.
My mood, confidence and self-esteem has improved enormously. I am sure that everyone can benefit from regular Shared Reading.
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