“It’s unbelievably moving and a real joy”: Shared reading and volunteering in Wiltshire
Since January this year, The Reader Organisation have been running weekly Library Memory Groups in libraries across Wiltshire. Funded by Wiltshire Council and NHS Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Library Memory Groups provide a stimulating environment where people with memory loss and those who care for them meet weekly to connect with each other through shared reading. Within the short space of time they have been set up the groups have proved popular, attracting coverage from BBC Radio Wiltshire and Wiltshire Times.
As the project continues, we are looking for volunteers to become Assistant Group Facilitators in our Library Memory Groups in Mere, Pewsey, Purton and Warminster Libraries.This opportunity will give you the chance to make a difference to the lives of people with memory loss, and to become part of The Reader Organisation in the South West, receiving fully funded training and the chance to go on to complete our revolutionary Read to Lead training free of charge. For a short amount of time - one and a half hours a week - you will help to make a significant impact within the community, as well as enjoying literature from a fresh and emotionally stimulating perspective.
Current South West volunteer Justine Wall volunteers at our Library Memory Group at Warminster Library on Wednesdays, 11.30am-1pm. Here, she shares her story of why reading - and particularly reading with people with memory loss - is so important to her:
My background is in English teaching, secondary trained, and I do love books. In particular, working with people with memory loss with reading is what I wanted to do because I believe in that pure, simple pleasure of reading. I also think that it’s something that’s taken away with a lot of other support groups that can happen for people with memory loss – literature can be forgotten, and so for me that was really important to see, that we celebrated it again.
The reading is of paramount importance, and what I enjoy is seeing the reaction of people. I thought it would be beneficial and I thought I would see it; what I wasn’t prepared for was the extent to which it happens; it is unbelievably moving and it is a real joy. We all seem to know that this is a safe place as well; that everybody can share things and emotions and memories.
Being in the group has taught me to put the analytical and critical side of myself aside sometimes and simply look at the text for enjoyment and a nudge for memory and nostalgia, which is a lot more important. It’s very interesting to have memories that people speak about but we root it all in the text. I also enjoy the calmness that comes from reading the text at a slower pace, it's lovely.
I would encourage anybody who’s the slightest bit interest to get involved because it’s incredibly manageable; I’m here for an hour and a half, there’s a variety of libraries to choose from that people can take part in, and to see the effect it has on other people and on oneself is worth it.
Read more from Justine on her experience of shared reading and volunteering with TRO on her blog: http://www.hectorandhaddock.com/blogs/news/12524869-read-to-me
If you have excellent literacy and comprehension, are good at reading aloud or willing to learn to improve your skills, have the ability to manage group dynamics and a desire to relate to people in an open and human way, you could become a Volunteer Assistant Group Facilitator with us in Wiltshire. We ask for a one year commitment but the opportunity is ongoing and can last for as long as you and your group want it to, and The Reader Organisation will give full support.
For more information on volunteering with us in Wiltshire, please contact Josephine Corcoran: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07812 238503, and see our website: http://www.thereader.org.uk/working-with-us/volunteering/south-west
Library Memory Groups in Wiltshire currently run on Wednesdays (Warminster and Mere) and Thursdays (Purton and Pewsey), for full details of groups in the South West, visit our Reading With Us group map on our website.
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