Read, talk, share – new Reading Friends scheme launches in Liverpool

Liverpool’s libraries have received essential funding to help tackle loneliness and isolation.

The grant will see the roll out of the national Reading Friends scheme which forms part of the city’s commitment to supporting mental health and ensuring people don’t feel they are on their own during these challenging times.

It will enable the library’s team to deliver the shared reading and befriending programme that uses reading to bring people together.  It will include individual or group sessions and use books, magazines, newspapers or anything to do with reading to start conversations.

Reading Friends met face-to-face in libraries prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, but currently the scheme is being delivered via telephone and virtual models.

An evaluation of the Reading Friends scheme found that 83% of participants and 95% of volunteers felt connected to other people after taking part.

Liverpool Libraries has participated in the Reading Well: Books on Prescription scheme for the past five years and the Reading Agency will be used to enhance the mental health book collections for children, young people and adults across the library service by providing additional physical and e-books titles for loan.

Every library in England will be gifted these Reading Well book collections. The Reading Agency is partnering with publishers and e-lending partners to offer titles in e-book and e-audio format to ensure this opportunity is as inclusive and accessible as possible.

The Reading Friends programme has been running since June 2017 and has seen The Reading Agency work in partnership with a range of organisations and communities to test different approaches to delivery, gradually expanding across the UK.

Research shows that creative and cultural participation makes the highest contribution to an older person’s wellbeing and Libraries are known for having the power to bring people and communities together.

The Reading Agency: https://readingagency.org.uk/news