Yesterday we took a look back at the first six months of 2013 at The Reader Organisation – and what a packed six months they were! Today we’re moving on to the second half of the year; here’s what happened from July to December.
The Reader Organisation was mentioned in ‘From Better to Best’ – a report from the Liverpool Education Commission setting out their vision of turning all capable children in Liverpool to leave primary schools as readers. TRO was chosen by Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson to help in plans to transform Liverpool into the UK’s foremost reading city – the goal we’ll be aiming to achieve through our Liverpool City of Readers project, launching in 2014.
Staying with our work in education and with young people, we ran a second Reading for Pleasure day conference at Liverpool Hope University and held a very successful Recruitment Day in London. A film documenting the first year of our RISE project was produced, and we celebrated the success of our hardworking North West volunteers at a special Volunteers Afternoon Tea.
Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy came to Calderstones Mansion House, as Shakespeare’s Globe’s touring production of King Lear hit Liverpool for two sell-out, five-star performances. The unique outdoor production, starring Joseph Marcell and Rawiri Paratene, reopened the Garden Theatre for the first time in over 30 years, bringing great literature and theatre back to the heart of the community at Calderstones and thrilling audiences from far and wide. Delighted visitors also rolled up to the Mansion House for our first Calderstones Summer Fair.
The Reader Organisation patron Erwin James wrote about the importance of reading in prison for the Guardian Books blog, mentioning TRO’s criminal justice work, and there was another big development in furthering the reading revolution as Social Business Trust invested £280,000 in TRO.
September was a month recognising The Reader Organisation’s growing social impact – the results of a Social Return on Investment (SRoI) report found that for every £1 invested into Get Into Reading in Wirral, an average of £6.47 worth of benefit to health and wellbeing was returned to group members.
We were also thrilled to win the Growth award at the Social Enterprise Network Powerful Together Awards, recognising achievement in social enterprise across Greater Merseyside, as well as being shortlisted for two further categories.
We welcomed the Lord Mayor of Liverpool and High Sheriff of Merseyside to Calderstones Mansion House, started our Llais a Llyfr/Make Friends With A Book project across North Wales and celebrated the second year of one of our most successful partnerships with Forum Housing in Birkenhead.
Our Hope Readers project at Liverpool Hope University entered into its third year, engaging 125 new Education students with a reading for pleasure culture, and Calderstones received its first commission from Mersey Care NHS Trust to run Get Into Reading and A Little, Aloud workshops as part of their Recovery College provision – the first of many, we hope…
TRO made the shortlist in the Smarta100 Awards and Jane was highly commended in the Social and Community Leader category of the 2013 Liverpool Post Leaders Awards. The worldwide success of The Unforgotten Coat continued as Frank Cottrell Boyce won Children’s Book of the Year at the German Children’s Literature Awards.
We took part in a number of events for World Mental Health Day, including the ‘Read For Life’ event at University of Liverpool, shared reading about dignity for Global Dignity Day and had lots of Half-Term Hijinks at Calderstones.
We celebrated the achievements of another year full of shared reading at our AGM, held for the first time at Calderstones Mansion House, and heard the inspirational stories of some of our group members from a wide variety of backgrounds. Calderstones was also the setting for several of our Short Courses for Serious Readers, with many satisfied readers enjoying classic literature in the beautiful surroundings.
Frank Cottrell Boyce wowed audiences at Leasowe Library – via the wonders of modern technology; shared reading in the capital got even bigger with the launch of our South London project, expanding our work across Lambeth and Southwark, and Jane was officially launched as one of six new Ashoka Fellows in the UK.
The last month of the year was all about the Penny Readings – and to celebrate 10 years of the festive extravaganza of reading and entertainment, we held the very first Penny Readings Festival at St George’s Hall, where members of the public enjoyed an absolutely free afternoon of Christmas reading and fun.
The Penny Readings and Ha’penny Readings themselves were a huge success, with guests including Frank Cottrell Boyce, Paul Farley, Wirral Ukulele Orchestra, the High Sheriff of Merseyside and many more delighting audiences in shows that Dickens would have surely been proud of.
What a year it has been! We couldn’t have made it all happen without the support of our partners, funders and commissioners, volunteers, group members, trustees, staff and every single follower of the reading revolution.
Let’s see what 2014 will bring…