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The Reader is inviting people to ‘bring a friend’ or ‘make a friend’ in its Shared Reading Community drive in Sefton

Written by Rachael Norris, 10th May 2019

After more than a decade reading aloud in Sefton, The Reader collaborates with Sefton Public Health on Mental Health Awareness Week special

Liverpool-based charity, The Reader, is collaborating with Sefton Council’s Public Health team and local organisations on a series of Shared Reading events, tying together Mental Health Awareness Week with Sefton’s Year of Friendship.

From 13th to 17th May, special Shared Reading Tasters will run alongside regular Shared Reading groups – weekly read-aloud groups that bring people together and books to life.

Local people are invited for a cup of tea, a biscuit and a chat over friendship-themed stories and poems. No pressure to talk or read.

  • Strand By Me Shared Reading Taster (Tuesday 10am – 12pm)
  • Kindfulness Coffee Club Weekly Shared Reading Group (Tuesday 10.30am – 12pm)
  • Feelgood Factory Weekly Shared Reading Group (Tuesday 12.15am – 12.45pm)
  • Crosby Library Weekly Shared Reading Group (Tuesday 1.30pm – 3.30pm)
  • Southport Liferooms Shared Reading Taster (Wednesday 2pm – 3pm)
  • Writeblend Shared Reading Taster (Thursday 10.30am – 11.30am)
  • Crosby Library Shared Reading Taster (Thursday 12pm – 1pm)
  • Crosby Library Weekly Shared Reading Group (Thursday 1.30pm – 3pm)
  • Bootle Library Shared Reading Taster (Friday 10am – 12pm)

The Reader will also be popping up at YKids homework club on Monday 4pm – 6pm with a Taster session to help improve wellbeing alongside studying.

Councillor Ian Moncur, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing at Sefton Council, said “We are delighted that so many people in Sefton have become involved in local reading groups.  They have not only learned more about the joys of reading together, they have also found new friends – which support our Year of Friendship in Sefton.”

“We first came to Sefton in 2006 to work directly with women experiencing mental health problems at the Swan Centre,” explains The Reader’s founder and director, Jane Davis.

“Great literature speaks to all parts of us, not just that which is sick. Poetry can remind us of parts of ourselves that we may have all but forgotten. ‘Who would’ve thought my shrivelled heart/could have recovered greenness?. When I read that line in George Herbert’s poem ‘The Flower’, I am filled with the realisation that things can change, even if I can’t imagine that change right now.” 

The Reader runs more than 200 Shared Reading groups across the North West; in its home at Calderstones Park, in Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, Skelmersdale and Lancashire, St Helens and Warrington, Wigan and Wirral. You can find your closest one here.

There are currently 17 Shared Reading groups happening in Sefton, funded by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, Sefton Public Health and The Limbourne Trust – nine of which are open for the public to drop in.

In The Reader’s latest Feedback Week survey of more than 1,500 Readers across the UK:

  • 94% said they look forward their Shared Reading group ‘as an important event in my week’.
  • 91% said ‘the reading sessions make me feel better ‘.
  • 84% said they’ve made new friends in the group.

The Reader works with mental health service providers across the UK and has been partnering with Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, offering in-patient and community groups across Merseyside, since 2007.

In mental health support groups:

  • 92% said they felt ‘safe and welcomed in the group’.
  • 85% said they ‘felt valued’.
  • 85% said the group gave them ‘something different to think about’.

One Sefton resident who joined a local Shared Reading group before training as a volunteer with The Reader, said: “It took a lot for me to walk in on my own, but the group were very welcoming. I find that I’m not as anxious when I’m in the group, and I lose myself in the story.”

People who are keen to find out how they can get more involved with The Reader, including running a group locally, or starting one specifically to help reduce social isolation and strengthen their community, should email


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