To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Day, St. Joseph’s Hospice in Thornton has this week opened its doors to the local community for the launch of a brand new health and wellbeing project, in partnership with national charity, The Reader.
The Reader sparks personal and social change by bringing people together and books to life at weekly Shared Reading sessions.
Volunteers from The Reader have been trialling the project with staff at St. Joseph’s Hospice for the last few months but, from October, they will also be offering regular Shared Reading sessions to help support members of the local community as well as patients and families currently using hospice services.
Kirsty Styles, The Reader’s National Membership Development Manager, said:
“We’re really excited to be bringing our Shared Reading groups to St. Joseph’s Hospice. We believe that literature is full of the stuff that makes us human. When we bring great books, poems and plays to life through live reading aloud and group discussion, it helps us to feel connected, involved and valued. By providing a creative and safe space to explore our inner lives, and develop meaningful relationships with others, Shared Reading improves well-being and builds community.”
The University of Liverpool’s Centre for Research into Literature, Reading and Society has found a significant improvement in the mental health of patients living with depression during the 12-month period in which they attended The Reader’s Shared Reading groups. There was a positive effect in the alleviation of pain symptoms and psychological well-being for those living with chronic pain and also improved mood and reduced agitation for 86% of those living with dementia.
Mike Parr, Chief Executive of St. Joseph’s Hospice, said:
“There have been lots of studies into the importance of reading on mental health. It can reduce stress levels significantly and makes people feel happier so we are really pleased to be involved with this project.
“We all encourage children to read, not just to improve their general vocabulary and spelling but also for their general cognitive development. But it’s just as important for adults, especially those living with mental and physical health conditions. We’re really excited about the project and our partnership with The Reader and we hope lots of people will come along and give it a go on Tuesday 9th October.”
Listen back to Jospice and The Reader on BBC Radio Merseyside: