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Leicestershire Shared Reading calls for new volunteers to help local people beat the blues this festive season

Written by Rachael Norris, 12th November 2019

After five years getting people reading aloud together in Leicestershire – there’s free training for new volunteers on offer this December

Volunteers read great literature aloud each week – to create time and space for better conversations with neighbours

National charity The Reader and its partner Leicestershire Shared Reading are looking for new volunteers to join a free training programme that will see them poised to transform their local community.

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.

There are more than 500 Shared Reading groups running across the UK, including nine in Leicestershire, with Wigston Library the very first to open its doors locally back in April 2014. The groups are free, happen every week and are open for anyone to drop in.

Now Leicestershire Shared Reading needs new people to help lead some of its oldest groups, in Hinckley, Blaby and Loughborough libraries. Volunteers get a transformative, three-day training course and ongoing support, including community events with others running groups across the country. The next training is on 3, 4 and 5 December.

By creating regular 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.

With winter almost here, there’s never been a better time to start Shared Reading, as getting together around great literature is great for beating the blues.

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.

Volunteers benefit too. Of more than 400 volunteers asked during Feedback Week:

  • 94% said it has given them a sense of achievement
  • 86% said it had increased their enjoyment of reading
  • 84% said it has improved their wellbeing

“The Reader has just this year opened the International Centre for Shared Reading at its Liverpool headquarters in Calderstones Park,” explains The Reader’s founder and director Dr Jane Davis. “We are so very grateful to the people of Leicestershire, and for the volunteers who make everything happen here, for their longstanding commitment to helping people survive and live well using the powerful tool that is great literature.”

Nicky Bennison, one of the people leading Leicestershire’s Reading Revolution, said: “We are really proud of how our groups have become an established and important part of people’s weeks and made a difference to their lives. We see up to 90 people every week and all this is thanks to our team of volunteers. It takes commitment, but it’s enjoyable, and so rewarding to feel we are making a difference.”

Email leicsharedreading@gmail.com to let us know you’d like to get involved.

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