Outnumbered star Claire Skinner lends her voice to the campaign for reading aloud together

Actor joins The Reader on stage at historic Toynbee Hall to help make the call for a Reading Revolution in 2019

 Local people urged to make Shared Reading ‘the thing’ they do this year – as NHS 10-year plan brings focus to staying healthy and ageing well

National charity, The Reader, is using the New Year to make a call for people across London to join the ‘Reading Revolution’.

Actor Claire Skinner will join The Reader’s founder Jane Davis and local Readers at an event on Thursday 17 January to read aloud something that says ‘revolution’ to her at the historic anti-poverty charity Toynbee Hall. The public are invited to lend their support too.

For more than a decade, The Reader has been reading aloud in prisons, care homes and the community. Research from the University of Liverpool has shown that Shared Reading groups can improve wellbeing, reduce social isolation and build stronger communities.

With almost 100 Shared Reading groups in London – in Barnet, Croydon, Hammersmith and Fulham, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton and Barnes, and Kensington and Chelsea – The Reader has thriving hubs across the capital led by dedicated volunteers committed to improving people’s lives through this highly impactful practice.

Claire Skinner said: “This is the time of year when many of us are looking to try something new or make improvements to our health and wellbeing, and getting together to share in the joy of a great novel or poem is a way for all of us – regardless of age, background or life situation – to feel positive. If you’ve not tried it before, make 2019 the year you give it a go!”

“The new NHS strategy highlights the need for people to stay healthy and age well,” said The Reader’s founder and director Jane Davis.

“At The Reader, we believe a reading revolution that helps people come together, around great literature, to talk, laugh and share is a simple way to prevent people falling into crisis, or help them out when they can’t see a way forward. We’re thankful for our army of volunteers who help us do just that – and we urge those that can to think about joining us in London, whether as advocates, volunteers or supporters.”

Suvi Dogra, who runs her weekly Shared Reading group in West London, explained: “Group members often tell me how much they love being a part of something that gives them a sense of belonging, no matter where they come from. Reading aloud and reading together shows the power of communication and language, while unraveling the mysteries of literature. Watching this self-discovery unfold in my readers is where true magic dwells, making it the most rewarding experience of my life.”

Last year, The Reader hit a major milestone with the news that it is now supporting 500 Shared Reading groups across the UK every single week. With support from players of the People’s Postcode Lottery and others, more than 1,000 volunteers now read in prisons, care homes and community spaces.

Groups are free and open to all, normally last an hour or an hour and a half, and run every week in local community spaces. As one local group member said: “The reading groups are a different kind of medicine and it’s through them that I’ve found a way back to life”.

Everyone who leads a Shared Reading group experiences The Reader’s transformative Read to Lead training and can go on to start new groups in places like sheltered housing or care homes.

To get involved with The Reader, email: volunteer@thereader.org.uk.

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