Libraries across South Yorkshire are working together to give people in the region the chance to experience literature’s life-supporting benefits.
Three libraries across South Yorkshire have joined forces for the first time with national charity, The Reader, to launch their first joint project - supported by Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants - to train 30 people to deliver 18 Shared Reading groups, in a range of library and community venues across the region.
Shared Reading – bringing great books, poems and plays to life through reading aloud and group discussion – is a powerful group experience that sparks connection, reflection and discovery. By creating space for people of all ages, backgrounds and life situations to explore their inner lives and develop meaningful relationships with others, Shared Reading develops confidence, improves wellbeing and builds community.
The Reader already support 500 weekly Shared Reading groups across the country, thanks to a growing movement of almost 900 volunteers. More than 80 of these groups are currently hosted in public libraries, where they help to support the health and wellbeing of local communities, and help individuals to develop a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them.
The Reader’s founder and director, Jane Davies, said: “Research tells us there are one million elderly people who are chronically lonely in the UK, one in four people have mental health issues, and one in 10 homes doesn't possess a single book. In our fast-paced digital age, when many of us are rushed, stressed or disconnected from others, Shared Reading is a tool that can help people to carve out that rare time.”
Nick Stopforth, head of service at Doncaster Library, said: “We are delighted to have been supported by Arts Council England to deliver what will be an exciting and worthwhile project. Shared Reading is a proven model with clear health outcomes.”