21 March 2022

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The Reader brings people together by sharing great stories, which can connect us and help us make sense of the world around us.

The national charity, which brings people together on a weekly basis to experience the life-enriching power of literature, is calling for people across Britain to join its reading revolution by giving shared reading a go.

Shared reading provides a friendly and welcoming space where people are brought together in small groups, on a weekly basis, to read great stories and poems aloud, while sharing their thoughts and reflections. There’s no pressure to read or speak and no prior experience is needed. Groups are drop in and – thanks to funding from players – free of charge.

Participants are free to join in the reading and conversation, or just sit back and listen. The groups are a great way for people to connect – to new literature, to their own thoughts and to each other. Long-lasting friendships are made. Health and wellbeing are improved.

As life returns to normal post-Covid, there are growing opportunities for people to join a shared reading group in person or online, and / or to volunteer with The Reader to make a difference in their own communities.

One new group that launched earlier this month thanks to support from players is providing a vital means of social and wellbeing support for men on Merseyside.

The Reach Men’s Centre offers a range of services aimed at reducing isolation and improving the mental health of men. Since the pandemic, the Centre has seen a substantial increase in the need for support; with 135 men accessing its counselling and drop in services over the last year.

The Reader has trained three staff at the Centre to deliver a weekly Shared Reading group.

One service user who recently took part in a shared reading taster session added: "I found it very interesting. I enjoyed the social side and being able to share views with others."

As more in person shared reading groups like the one with The Reach Centre open up, there are also more opportunities to train with The Reader as a shared reading volunteer.

One volunteer who leads a shared reading group in a care home said: "What I find most satisfying is the circle of sharing. I share the literature with the group and the group members share their time, thoughts and feelings with one another and with me. I always take something away from it."
Helen Wilson, The Reader’s head of shared reading programmes, said: "If you’re looking for a purposeful and rewarding way to put your time and skills to use then becoming a Reader Leader could be what you need.
"There are lots of benefits to being part of our warm, kind and connected community of Readers, including training, support and plenty of reading resources. Most importantly of all though, this is an opportunity to make a difference to people’s lives."

Nearly £3 million has been raised for The Reader by players of People's Postcode Lottery.