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Peter’s Reader Story – ‘It has become my one opening to the world’

Written by Rachael Norris, 9th September 2020

Before the pandemic, Peter had been attending a Shared Reading group in his local library in Liverpool for two years. Here, he talks to us about what Shared Reading has meant to him over the last few months. 

With the lockdown happening, I lost my weekly Shared Reading group and my different volunteering roles overnight. However, our Reader Leader let me know about The Reader’s alternative provision and I joined an online Shared Reading group via Zoom. It has become my one opening to the world.  

During the lockdown, I had very limited contact with other human beings. You have no idea how valuable these online Friday sessions have been to me. After our weekly online group, I phone one of the group members from my library Shared Reading group. She doesn’t have a computer, so I call her and read the same poem to her. It has had a huge impact on me. Much more than you’d expect. 

The online group introduced me to Zoom, which I wouldn’t otherwise use. Shared Reading, whether physical or online, does two things for me. Firstly, there’s the emotional impact. Once I was reduced to tears. We read a small extract about a person having been injured and died because of a mistake, and that just totally got to me.  

When I was in the forces, we got big casualties, and once I was the one who made the mistake which caused the casualties. And the text brought that back. I stopped and just went to bits. Now, that emotional effect is fantastic because it brought back something, I had suppressed for 40 years, and it felt safe to finally get it out in the group.  

Secondly, you meet different people through the literature, and in the group, and they help you see things differently. Essentially, Shared Reading is like entering a big house and together you start opening different doors, and by going into each and every room, you learn so many new things within just an hour. It’s a fantastic experience.   


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