Stickyeyes supports the charity to deliver its shared reading experiences online throughout the lockdown.
The Reader is a national charity that seeks to bring a ‘Reading Revolution’ so that everyone can enjoy and experience great literature, regardless of their background or circumstances. A key part of delivering this mission was the charity’s shared reading experiences in the community, with thousands of people coming together across 500 weekly group readings in community spaces, prisons, hospitals, libraries and on high streets across the UK.
The groups – the majority of which are led by a movement of volunteers – read great novels, poems and short stories aloud, and talk about them. Research has shown that sharing works of literature in the company of others in this way helps people to connect at a deeper level, improving wellbeing, reducing isolation and strengthening communities.
With the current UK-wide lockdown and government guidance preventing the gathering of groups of people, The Reader was forced to suspend its shared reading sessions. That prompted the charity and Stickyeyes to work in partnership to develop a new online and telephone-based service, allowing the charity to continue that mission.
The new service, ‘The Reader at Home’, aims to spread the connection, comfort and fellow feeling offered by great literature at a time when many people are looking for wellbeing support, distraction and meaning.
Following successful trials in April, online shared reading groups are now taking place over Zoom, with live reading groups being led by the charity’s staff and volunteers.
These sessions are supported by a digital portal of resources. These include:
- Recommended reads: A specially curated collection of lockdown reading resources to read, watch and listen online at leisure. This collection includes a new digital collection - Bread & Roses - which was launched with a reading by The Reader’s patron, actress Claire Skinner.
- Digital Shared Reading: A daily video reading or a live reading on Facebook. The weekly schedule of live events includes Storybarn Live! which is aimed at young children and their families, and schools.
- Life Lines: A range of read-aloud activity packs, including texts and prompts, for charities, prisons, NHS partners and community organisations who want to bring the comfort and connection of reading to the people that they support.
- Shared Reading on the phone: People are invited to enjoy being read to one-to-one with The Reader’s telephone reading service.
- Online support sessions for Reader volunteers: Regular online meet-ups to keep the shared reading community across the UK, and beyond, connected.
Stickyeyes has provided support for the development and deployment of The Reader at Home on a pro-bono basis.
Jane Davis, founder and director at The Reader, said:
“As we entered lockdown it became clear that there were three pressing needs arising from communities; the need for food; wellbeing support and for social connection.
“Taking our lead from the early female unionists of the US, who recognised that life was not only about basic breadline necessities but also about the ineffable beauty of the world – ‘give us bread but give us roses’ – we have reacted quickly to evolve our work where we can in response to the national emergency.”
You can access The Reader at Home at https://www.thereader.org.uk/get-involved/the-reader-at-home/.