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Reading for the Brain: Volunteering for The Reader Organisation in Barnet

Written by Lisa Spurgin, 11th March 2014

“I wholeheartedly recommend the experience of being a volunteer with The Reader Organisation – if you are willing to commit the time, to understand and engage with the way TRO works, then it is a hugely rewarding and exciting project” - Current Volunteer Facilitator, Barnet

Since 2012, The Reader Organisation has developed volunteering opportunities in Barnet as part of our work in London. Volunteers across the region have been recruited, trained and supported to assist within and run shared reading groups within the community, bringing literature to more people within the capital. We have worked with organisations including Age UK and Jewish Care to run groups for residents and members of day centres, as well as groups and one-on-one sessions specifically for people living with dementia and their carers.

We can announce that our current volunteering opportunities in Barnet are expanding to include two new projects, Altogether Better - an intergenerational community reading project - and Reading for the Brain - a project  for people living with dementia and their carers, building on our existing work with Jewish Care. We are looking for volunteers for both of these projects as they are launched, seeking volunteers to facilitate shared reading groups for Older People with Dementia and their carers, both in care and day settings. We are also looking for volunteers to lead groups for the whole population in  care homes, day centres and also to the wider community in Barnet.

These exciting and fulfilling opportunities are open to anyone who meets the following requirements:

  • Good basic literacy and comprehension, able to read aloud - or learn to - with a genuine interest in reading and a willingness and motivation to expand this interest
  • A spirit of enquiry and an ability to facilitate conversation with people that is related to the text (this is different to 'having' a conversation)
  • An ability to manage group dynamics with an openness to people and a desire to be with people in a human way, and put the needs of the group and the story ahead of their own interests
  • A commitment to ongoing training and development

Volunteers running weekly shared read aloud reading groups will work in pairs. Successful applicants will receive training and on going support from The Reader Organisation and would be making a long term commitment to The Reader Organisation and their community.

One of our volunteers working in Rubens House Care Home running a shared reading group for people with dementia recounts her experience of being a volunteer facilitator:

"[The residents] genuinely seem to enjoy our sessions and usually thank us at the end and say that they enjoyed it. A care worker told us that one of the ladies has become much more friendly towards other people in the home since she has been coming to the group.

Sometimes relatives of the attendees sit in with the group and they remark on how good it is to see their family members participating in an activity which stimulates their memory.

It has been a very enjoyable experience for me as well. It is good to know that you can still be useful in your seventies and contribute to the welfare of others. I frequently leave the Get into Reading sessions on a ‘high’.They are a delightful group to work with and I feel privileged to be able to bring some pleasure into their lives. I have also rediscovered poetry for myself.”

We are now actively recruiting for volunteers for the Reading for the Brain project in Barnet.  For further details please contact Paul Higgins at or call 07985 718744

Find out more about our volunteering opportunities across the country on our website:

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