The Reader is a national charity working so that everyone can experience and enjoy great literature, which it believes is a tool for helping people live well.
In response to the current situation The Reader will be launching a range of new initiatives so that shared reading can continue to reach people during these difficult times.
By making reading resources available digitally and running online and telephone reading sessions, charity The Reader will be able to continue bringing people together through literature and shared reading to help build meaningful connections and combat loneliness, thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
Over the years the charity has brought thousands of people together to share and discuss great novels, short stories and poems – live and aloud – in shared reading groups. The groups, which are free for everyone to attend, help to improve well-being, reduce isolation and build stronger communities.
With more than 500 groups, involving 1,000 volunteers, the charity reached 13,000 people last year in community centres, libraries, care homes, hospitals, prisons, secure units and workplaces.
Relationships can be vital in helping everyone – regardless of age, life situation or background – to get through challenging moments.
The process of shared reading improves social connection for participants and volunteers.
Thanks to more than £1 million, raised by players of People's Postcode Lottery, shared reading is now available in more communities than ever; from Shropshire to London, Cornwall to Salford and everywhere in between.
The St Cuthbert’s Centre in Earls Court usually provides a drop-in and therapeutic centre for vulnerable and socially-isolated people.
L, who lives and works part-time in the local area, has been coming to the St Cuthbert’s group for more than six months.
She said: "What I like is that it is free and welcoming to everyone, not just for certain people - loneliness is not only old people, it’s young people and immigrants and everyone.
"Everyone here is sharing thoughts which helps us to connect with each other. There is no judgement, we are free to say what we want and respect each other. If we started to judge, people would stop participating, but here we don’t judge and there is time for each of us to speak."