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North West community comes together to welcome £400,000 award from the players of People’s Postcode Lottery

Written by Emma Walsh, 24th April 2018

Frank Cottrell Boyce, Reader Volunteer Louise, Lisa Belletty of People's Postcode Lottery, and Jane Davis, founder and director of The Reader

Over 100 Reader volunteers and group members were joined by Luciana Berger, MP and author Frank Cottrell Boyce to celebrate a year of Shared Reading.

The Reader, a national charity based in Liverpool, which builds stronger, healthier communities through volunteer-led Shared Reading groups, welcomed an award of £400,000 raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

The presentation was made on Friday, April 20, at a celebration event for The Reader’s North West project which aims to bring Shared Reading groups to libraries, care homes, community centres and public spaces across the region in order to improve mental health and well-being and reduce social isolation.

Supported by a growing family of commissioning partners including Halton Borough Council, Halton CCG, Knowsley CCG, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, North West Boroughs NHS Foundation Trust, Well Halton and Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, the volunteer-led project was established in 2017 with support from the innovation foundation Nesta and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport through The Second Half Fund.

Luciana Berger, MP, a patron for Shared Reading in the North West project said during her speech at Friday’s event:

“The early success of this North West initiative is testament to the efforts of all volunteers who lead groups, the people who attend, the staff, and the funders who generously back the initiative. The continued growth of Shared Reading across the North West will play an important role in breaking down social isolation and bringing communities together.”

In the first year of Shared Reading North West project, 319 volunteers have helped to double the number of weekly Shared Reading groups across the region. This inspiring, people-led movement will serve as the blueprint for a growing Reading Revolution to empower volunteers to bring Shared Reading groups to communities across the UK.

With this core support from players of the People's Postcode Lottery, The Reader aims to increase the national reach of their innovative Shared Reading programme so that everyone, no matter who or where they are, can find a group in their local community.

Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said:

“Sharing a good story brings people together and takes them on a journey of discovery. We are really pleased that players are helping The Reader to create a unique story of its own and we hope that funding will help bring this experience to even more communities across the country.”

Accepting the funding on behalf of the Shared Reading community, Louise, a Reader Volunteer said:

"It's been a lovely day getting together with volunteers from across the North West and catching up with everyone. I've been volunteering with The Reader since 2010 so it's great to accept this funding on behalf of us all here in the North West and all the volunteers and group members from across the UK!"

Speaking to the audience on Friday, Frank Cottrell Boyce, award-winning author and screenwriter, and Reader Patron said:

“Being read to is completely primal. When we are read to we all become children again, it’s something about listening to the words, it brings us all to the same place. That’s why Shared Reading is so powerful – it brings the literature alive in the room and it will find you wherever you are – in classrooms, libraries or prisons – whatever your circumstances – living with mental health issues or dementia – the literature gets through and brings us together.

“The Reader is empowering volunteers to do that, to reach out to people alone or just out of touch with things, are creating a connection, a lifeline to bring people together.”

If you would like further information on Shared Reading or how you can volunteer, click here.

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