The Reader Organisation’s South West team has been operating since 2011 – in the space of just over three years they have recruited and bid farewell to colleagues, expanding the reach of shared reading across the region from Cornwall all the way across to Gloucestershire.
And we can announce some exciting news – having spent these years without a central office and working remotely, the South West team now have their very own premises, based in Plymouth Central Library in Devon. Moving is something we’ve been used to lately, as just over a month ago we relocated our Liverpool HQ from West Everton to the Coach House at Calderstones Mansion.
Jennifer McDerra, The Reader Organisation’s South West Development Manager, fills us in on the big move:
‘In ceiling, floor and windows, we are given to where we have been…’
The South West team have all been working from home since shared reading began here, as well as in various lobbies and cafes, so we’re really looking forward to sharing ideas, tea, and anecdotes in a room of our own – and welcoming our volunteers and visitors.
There are poems, ideas, and maps on the walls already, and we’ve had and won a fight with a crumbling thirty year old phone system. Thanks to the supreme talents of TRO’s IT and Facilities Manager Craig Bentley, we are now on broadband faster than everyone else in Plymouth!
It was lovely selecting resources with the People and Support team at TRO HQ in September to create that irreplaceable back-to-school feeling – trundling down from Liverpool to Plymouth by train with a suitcase containing the entire contents of the new office felt like something of a pilgrimage.
It’s great timing, as we will soon be welcoming a new member of staff, Sarah Dangar, who will be the Team Leader responsible for operational management of the South West. Sarah and I will work be working full-time from the office, joined by the South West team members from Cornwall, Devon, Plymouth, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire in-between delivering their shared reading groups.
The process I’ve witnessed on the occasions when I’ve visited Liverpool during the office move from WECC to Calderstones Mansion and Coach House, and the one we’ve undertaken in securing premises in the South West has brought to mind many pieces of literature about place and belonging, but mostly the recurring sense of how we imbue places with meaning, the importance of walls and floors and windows reminded me of Brendan Kennelly’s We Are Living:
What is this room
But the moments we have lived in it?
When all due has been paid
To gods of wood and stone
And recognition has been made
Of those who’ll breathe here when we are gone
Does it not take its worth from us
Who made it because we were here?
As a team, we’re looking forward to welcoming our colleagues from the rest of the country to our new home, and continuing to create strong shared reading connections throughout the South West which link up to the work going on across the UK. Thanks to the staff at Plymouth Central Library for their considerable efforts in preparing the space for us and making us welcome.
For more information on our shared reading projects in South West England, see our website: http://www.thereader.org.uk/where-we-work/south-west
You can also get updates from the team in their lovely new office – and from all around the South West – by following @TheReaderSW on Twitter.