National charity The Reader is appealing to the people of Bristol to join their growing movement of volunteers

July 01 2018
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The national charity which builds stronger, healthier communities through volunteer-run Shared Reading groups, is on a mission to bring people together and books to life.

As well as being a meaningful and rewarding weekly activity for volunteers and group members alike, Shared Reading groups also help those living with dementia, mental health and social isolation issues. With the support of the players of People’s Postcode Lottery, The Reader is building a national movement of volunteers to bring their Shared Reading groups to libraries, cafes, care homes and community centres across the UK. These groups provide a friendly, welcoming space where people can come together to read great books and poems aloud or simply listen along, and share personal thoughts and reflections.

Melanie, a Reader Volunteer said: "I've been volunteering with The Reader for two and a half years, why? Simply, because I love it, and I cannot imagine anything I would rather do on a Monday. I have had such pleasure sharing my love of literature with them, but such satisfaction from the trust they place in each other, and in me, as we explore stories together. I love to see them smile, or laugh out loud, and I cannot tell you how much it means to me to hear them say, at the end, “that was such a powerful story”, “that meant so much to me today”, “I haven’t spoken to anyone all weekend and I was looking forward to the group so much” or even just “thank you so much.”

The Reader recently announced a new partnership with Bristol Aging Better which will establish 30 new Shared Reading groups in the area and over the next two years, they hope to recruit 60 new volunteers in Bristol. If you enjoy discovering and sharing great stories and poems, love meeting new people and want to make a difference in your local community then The Reader wants to hear from you. To find out more, visit www.thereader.org.uk or email volunteer@thereader.org.uk.

The Reader currently supports over 560 specially trained volunteers to bring Shared Reading into local communities across the country, but the charity’s founder and director Jane Davis says their work is far from done: “We’ve been running Shared Reading groups for over a decade and have seen the impact that they’ve had on group members and volunteers in the areas we’ve worked - across the North West and London, in North Wales and the South West. But we need to do more!

“There is a quote we often use at The Reader. James Baldwin said: 'You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read'. And that's what Shared Reading does, it is a brilliant way to tackle those big social issues that affect every individual and every community in the country. We won’t rest until everyone, no matter who or where they are, can find a group near them.

Recent evaluation of group members’ health and well-being, showed that 93% felt better after attending a Shared Reading session while 91% recognised improvements to their confidence and communication skills. The impact of Shared Reading is also felt by Reader Volunteers who run the groups each week, with over 90% reporting improved personal well-being, a greater sense of achievement and feeling more connected to others.

If you’d like to know more about bringing Shared Reading to people in Bristol and volunteering with The Reader, visit www.thereader.org.uk or email volunteer@thereader.org.uk.