Earlier today the BBC reported on the unfortunate rise in the number of people suffering from depression in England as a consequence of the recession. Prescriptions of Prozac have risen more than 40% over the past four years whilst “GPs and charities say they are increasingly being contacted by people struggling with debt and job worries.”
We recently conducted a study measuring the impact Get Into Reading projects in Wigan had on the lives of participants. The results were incredibly positive, with GIR having a positive effect on literacy, people’s participation in cultural events, employability and their mental health.
The participants of the survey came from 14 different groups in the Wigan area, with settings including Making Space mental health day centre, libraries, homeless centres and the Prince’s Trust in Leigh. The majority of participants had been attending groups for between three and nine months when surveyed.
Impact on Mental Health
75% of those surveyed said they were more able to relax following GIR, 66% felt more positive about life and 59% felt they were now more capable of dealing with stress. 84% said they felt more confident reading aloud as a consequence of being a member of a GIR group.
Excellent results in improving mental welfare are not exclusive to Wigan, as Alan Yates, Chief Executive of Mersey Care NHS Trust testifies:
“I can identify people within Get Into Reading at Mersey Care NHS Trust who otherwise would have needed in-patient care had it not been for the support and benefit of the groups. Groups cost about £6 per person per session; by comparison, an in-patient stay costs on average £9,000.”
Impact on Employability
With communication and interpersonal skills being more important than ever when applying for a job, GIR has helped people develop those skills that could see them combat the effects of the recession and help them into work. After joining Get Into Reading 94% experienced improved confidence in participating in group discussion, 75% were more confident socialising generally, 78% felt more confident in reading factual information and 63% said they felt more confident in applying for jobs.
78% of those surveyed said that GIR was both an opportunity to meet people they wouldn’t normally and “An opportunity to develop relationships with people whose personal circumstances are completely different from [their] own.”
It is clear that Get Into Reading has played a massive part in many people’s lives, improving their well-being and outlook. GIR groups offer everyone a relaxed, social environment and the results from our Wigan survey indicate that participants have gained significant benefit from reading aloud with fellow members and socialising with a variety of people, leading to improved confidence that could help all members – including those with finance-based welfare difficulties – in the future.