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Shared Reading in Knowsley

Written by Lisa Spurgin, 10th March 2016

Turning the spotlight on our Shared Reading project in Knowsley.

‘I never would have met all these people if I hadn’t come here’ - Shared Reading group member, Knowsley

Our Knowsley project is well underway, bringing Shared Reading to people in the area on a weekly basis. Since July last year regular Book Break sessions for members of the community have been running each week, alongside Book at Breakfast groups which are specifically aimed at people living with dementia and those close to them. In conjunction with Knowsley Council we've been able to connect local people with a wide range of literature, as well as encouraging the health and well-being benefits that sharing stories and poems together provides.

With Shared Reading in Knowsley, we're showing people of all ages and life situations that literature is for them - and what's more, that reading together can create new and lasting social connections, improve confidence and self-esteem and build a greater sense of well-being. Recently our groups in Knowsley have read choices from W.B. Yeats, Mark Von Doren, D.H. Lawrence and e.e. cummings - an eclectic selection!

Rob has been a regular member of one of our Shared Reading groups in Knowsley since last year.

[The group] is a great way of meeting people, exploring what they think and reading stories. Being there gives you the tools to read more and think differently. Every story has a moral side. Y’know, like ethics. Things stand out [when you’re reading] and it’s like medicine.  I know it’s almost impossible, but it’s like you can think what [the author] thought when they wrote it. It’s something to take away – when you’ve got five minutes to yourself afterwards,  it all comes back and you can think about it, in more depth.

Since coming to the group I’m more observant, more community based. I see everyone as part of a community, whereas I used to see people in certain areas - separated off. Just through coming to the group. I didn’t realise it for a while, it took two or three weeks for me to see the change. I used to go to a reading group at Huyton and after a few weeks you find out that other group members are going out, going to college - a new world is open to them. I see a difference in other people, as well as myself - I feel enlightened.

Following the success of our Big Lottery funded Merseyside Volunteer Reader Scheme, the Knowsley Reader Scheme is developing volunteers to take Shared Reading further across the borough, reading one-on-one with older people in care homes. All volunteers applying for the scheme receive full training and support from The Reader, with a focus placed on their own personal development, regular feedback and the chance to be a part of the wider Reader family, meeting other volunteers and having achievements celebrated. Not only will volunteers get the chance to grow, develop and enrich their own reading and lives, they will also be making a difference to some of those who need the personal connection that comes from reading together the most.

Since attending the reading group regularly, we're happy to say that Rob has become a Reading Friend as part of the Knowsley Reader Scheme.

Shared Reading is like counselling – people say a counsellor just sits there and the other person reels it all off, but it’s not like that. The counsellor’s got to know when to stop, go on, let someone else come in. It’s a bit like being a traffic warden! 

Want to know more? Then why not pop along to a group and experience Shared Reading for yourself in Knowsley:

  • Book Break (for the local community) - Craigs Community Centre, Stockbridge Village, Tuesdays 1-2.30pm
  • Book Break (for the local community) - The Halewood Centre, Wednesdays 1.30-3pm
  • Book at Breakfast (for people living with dementia and those close to them) - Prescot Library, Thursdays 10-11.30am

If you would like to take the first step towards becoming a volunteer in Knowsley, please contact Helen Wilson, Knowsley Project Coordinator: or visit our website for more information.

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