This year we’ve been reconnecting with reading revolutionaries up and down the country. Find your nearest event and get in touch.
Seven days. Three match-funders. 292 donors. £45,881 pounds raised to train and support volunteers to bring weekly Shared Reading groups to isolated older people across the UK.
Phew – What a week! At midday on Tuesday we wrapped up The Big Give Christmas Challenge after a huge seven-day campaign to raise funds for our work with socially isolated older people.
We were blown away by the generosity of our supporters right across the country, from Cornwall up to Aberdeenshire, and from Norfolk all the way across to Tyrone, 292 individuals gave a total of £21,369 in just seven days.
And thanks to the support of CHK Charities Ltd, Booker Prize winning translator Deborah Smith and an anonymous match-funder we had an incredible opportunity to double the impact of individual donations made during the week-long campaign, which when combined with gift aid raised a total of £45,881 to train and support volunteer Reader Leaders who will read with older people in care homes and community settings across the UK.
To everyone who donated, baked, knitted, raised money through book sales, tweeted, talked to radio DJs, friends, family, neighbours and strangers to spread the news – we’d like to say a huge Reader thank you!
We launched the Christmas Challenge on Tuesday 28 November with our wonderful Knit and Natter group at our headquarters in Calderstones Park, with an incredible donation of £1106 raised through the sale of their homemade wares at The Reader Gallery. We also welcomed Rhod Davies from the Charity Aid Foundation to a Shared Reading group to celebrate Giving Tuesday.
We were thrilled by the wonderful feature on Deborah Smith’s support for the campaign on The Bookseller, who said:
“Ever since I won the prize I’ve been agonising over what to do with the money, and when I heard about the work The Reader does I thought ‘I want that to happen in Doncaster’.
Literature has opened so many doors for me and growing up I felt like my real education came from reading books from my local library, so it’s really important to me to be able to give something back.
Reading has so many amazing benefits for mental and physical health, which is why the idea that you have to have money or a particular education to access it is so damaging and dangerous. Books should be for everybody – my life would have been completely different without them.”
Across the week our friends at Cheshire Farm’s Ice Cream Farm raised money to donate to The Big Give Christmas Challenge and at Reader HQ we held a week of exciting events, with the Giving Tuesday Book Giveaway, after-dark heritage tours with The Calder Stones by Candlelight, a Literary Bake Off and festive fun at The Reader’s Christmas Courtyard Fair.
Last Christmas you helped us raise over £40,000 to support socially isolated older people through Shared Reading. This year, we’re aiming even higher. Help us reach out to lonely older people this Christmas.
My oh my have we got a cracking magazine for you this quarter! The summer edition is out now, jam-packed with fantastic new writing, powerful personal essays and all the latest Reader thinking.
Bring Shared Reading to a new community
Last December, The Reader launched a three-day fundraising campaign as part of The Big Give’s Christmas Challenge. Supported by The Pilgrim Trust and the Postcode Support Trust, The Reader raised over £50,000 and was named Best UK Charity in the Christmas Challenge Awards. Donations from our wonderful supporters and partners have already allowed us to train 15 new volunteer Reader Leaders and provided increased support and ongoing training for over 50 existing volunteers currently reading with older people at risk of social isolation.
With the remaining funds, we plan to create a new Shared Reading community in an area where they we do not currently work. Under this new community-led project, we will train 12 additional Reader Leaders and provide a bespoke programme of learning and support worth over £10,000.
You helped us raise the money, now help us spread the word!
We are inviting applications from across the country, for a new training programme which aims to reduce social isolation and improve the mental health and well-being of older people. Fully-funded for two years, applications are welcome from community groups, individuals and small organisations who wish to bring our unique Shared Reading model to their community, creating something real and meaningful for isolated older residents.
Shared Reading improves well-being, reduces social isolation and builds stronger communities, as one 95-year-old lady who read one-to-one with a Reader Volunteer in Wirral said:
“It really brightens my day, because I don’t see anybody some days, so when the Reader Volunteer comes on a Tuesday morning, it brightens my week. We do something different, the poems and the stories we read are different each time and we have such a good discussion about them. It’s a one-to-one discussion – why we enjoyed it, what we think it’s all about, you really get to the bottom of it. It gives me something to think about, something extra to think about and I really, truly enjoy it.”
This is an exciting opportunity for passionate and motivated people to become part of a collaborative movement and build a long-term, sustainable Shared Reading community dedicated to supporting older people. All applicants must be able to self-fund any travel or accommodation costs incurred by attending the Read to Lead training course which will take place from Tuesday 29 to Thursday 31 August. The location of the course will be determined by the strength and spread of successful applications.
How to apply:
All applicants must be able to commit to:
- Attending ALL course dates in August (Tuesday 29 – Thursday 31)
- A two-year programme of involvement
- Providing regular communications and reports to The Reader, including evaluation and monitoring of activities and case studies
- Self-funding any travel or accommodation costs incurred
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