This post was first published by The Croydon Citizen on 27/07/2018.
The Reader’s Shared Reading groups come to Croydon
In September 2017, The Reader, an award-winning charitable enterprise, started a new project in Croydon. This three-year project funded by the City Bridge Trust aims to improve wellbeing, build community and reduce the social isolation of the older people in the borough, through the delivery of ‘Shared Reading’ groups. This year, The Reader in Croydon has worked in partnership with several organisations, such as Age UK Croydon, the Croydon University Hospital, Upper Norwood Library Hub, Parchmore Community Centre and Croydon Council day centres for people living with dementia. Six groups have been set up so far, reaching over fifty older people.
The Reader has been developing weekly reading groups across the UK for more than ten years. It works with a range of people, including those experiencing social isolation and exclusion, or suffering from mental health problems. Shared Reading groups provide an informal space to discover great literature. The Reader Leaders (trained volunteers) read aloud whatever story or poem they have brought along that week, and people are encouraged to join in as much or as little as they want. You can choose to sit back and relax, or to share your thoughts and meet new people.
Everything about the groups is intended to bring about the ‘breakthrough moments’ when people discover their own responses to literature, connect with their own feelings and know their own stories. As one of our Reader Leaders said, “I have found The Reader to be about valuing people for who they are. Not as collectives such as ‘the old’, nor ‘the frail’, but as whole people, with histories, lives, ideas, values, beliefs, experiences, visions and feelings that transcend pain, infirmity and labels”.
The Reader is looking to recruit new volunteers
We are currently looking to recruit new volunteers to help us develop this much-needed approach to encouraging social interaction in Croydon. It is a great opportunity to enrich the lives of other people and to engage with your local community, as well as developing the skills and confidence to run your own group. You will benefit from training and ongoing support once you start your group. The next training will be held in September 2018, with opportunities to deliver reading groups in sheltered housing, care homes or community settings.
While this project will be focusing on older age groups, all ages are welcome to attend groups or volunteer. You can come along to one of our open community groups to have a better understanding of how we work: they are open to everyone and free to attend, and all reading materials are provided.
Weekly groups are currently run at:
- Upper Norwood Library Hub, every Wednesday, 10:30 am – 12 pm
- Age UK Croydon, Park House, every Wednesday, 2 pm – 3:30 pm
- Parchmore Methodist Church, every Thursday, 11 am – 12:30 pm
Try it sometime – we’d be delighted to see you, and there’s no need to attend every week. Get in touch with Bryony, on 07812 238375 or by email, by 1st August 2018 for more info about our volunteering opportunities, or to find out more about the groups.