Social Business Trust awards £1.5 million support to The Reader

The Reader, an innovative social enterprise addressing social isolation and mental health across the UK through literature and shared reading, has been awarded a package of funding and business support worth £1.5 million by Social Business Trust (SBT).
 
SBT’s support will enable The Reader to increase the number of people it helps from 11,000 to 27,000 a year by 2018.
 
The Reader’s shared reading groups take place in a variety of settings including prisons, mental health centres, care homes and local communities. Its simple model of reading aloud in facilitated groups is proven to support positive mental health and wellbeing, combating isolation, calming aggression and helping people with dementia.
 
This is SBT’s second investment in The Reader, following a package of funding and support worth £280,000 awarded in 2013. Delivery of that business expertise has been led by British Gas, with support from EY and SBT’s other corporate partners and has included help with sales strategy, proposition development and impact measurement.
 
British Gas will also lead on delivery of the new SBT support package, which will include development of change management capability in The Reader’s leadership team and support with intellectual property and licensing. Cash grants will help to fund its growth in areas including finance, IT, communications and programme management.
 
In five years since it launched, SBT has supported 13 outstanding social enterprises, selected from reviews of over 900. They all have in common the potential to achieve significant growth and make a positive difference to the lives of people facing disadvantage in areas including education, employment and poverty.
 
Last year, SBT committed £4m of cash and in-kind support and provided 3,000 hours of business expertise from its partners: Bain & Company, British Gas, Clifford Chance, Credit Suisse, EY, Permira and Thomson Reuters. All provide expert volunteers and secondees, many at senior level, to work with SBT.
 
Adele Blakebrough MBE, CEO of Social Business Trust said: “It is incredibly moving and compelling to see the difference The Reader makes to thousands of vulnerable people through its simple model of shared reading groups. We know there is scope to expand The Reader’s important work more extensively across the country and are delighted to support the organisation to achieve that growth.”
 
Dr Jane Davis, MBE, Director of The Reader said: “We are thrilled to be gaining this vital further support from SBT. We’ve already gained so much from being part of their portfolio, the learning and guidance of SBT has been invaluable in our growth across the country and beyond. This new round of support will not just strengthen our core ensuring our successful work continues but importantly will accelerate our growth and ability to reach more people who need us.”

 
Case study

Angela(not her real name) from Liverpool has bipolar affected disorder and experienced a full nervous breakdown three years ago. She joined a group at The Reader a year ago and then started volunteering on reception. As a result of building her confidence and experience, she is about to begin a paid job.
 
Angela says: “I saw my consultant for the first time in six months the other day and I don’t think he could believe the change in me.  If I was putting percentages on my progress over the last year I would say 30% natural improvement and pills and 70% down to coming here. If I hadn’t found The Reader, who knows what I would be doing now?”