The Reader’s Charity Auction for a visit to The Royal Gardens at Highgrove

We’re delighted to announce an exciting opportunity to bid for a visit to The Royal Gardens at Highgrove with supper, an overnight stay AND raise money for The Reader in the process!

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The Big Give: Christmas Challenge Blind Auction

The Mole Family

As part of our Christmas Challenge fundraising we’re auctioning off a rare Christmas read by Russell Hoban. Find out how to get you hands on this little-known Christmas classic!

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Jane Davis joins The Happy List 2015!

Jane Davis High ResWe’re feeling particularly happy today as Jane Davis, our Founder and Director, has made it onto the Independent on Sunday’s Happy List 2015!

The IoS Happy List was set up in 2008 to recognise and celebrate people who enrich the lives of others and make Britain a happier and more caring place to be. From charity fundraisers and founders to teachers, emergency service workers and community heroes, the Happy List features those who have made an extraordinary effort within their local communities and beyond for no personal gain, giving back to others instead. What makes the Happy List so special is that the nominations are made entirely by the public and readers of the Independent on Sunday.

As Founder of The Reader Organisation, Jane has pioneered the practice of shared reading as a way not only to experience the emotional power but also the sheer pleasure that comes from reading great literature aloud, together. From setting up the first ever shared reading group in Birkenhead in 2002, hundreds of groups now run across the UK reaching people of all ages, backgrounds and circumstances.  The combination of the texts read, a relaxed and informal atmosphere and being in the company of others on a regular weekly basis – as well as the additional treats of tea and biscuits – make the groups beneficial to many of our members, giving a boost to wellbeing and confidence as well as fostering new friendships.

‘I don’t know what it is but after this group I always leave feeling better. It’s like a life tonic.’

‘Shared reading is like sitting around a fire and telling stories to each other – a way of binding us together.’

– shared reading group members

Jane Louise moneyShared reading brings many happy moments to our Readers each week, but what is it that makes Jane happy? Getting out and admiring the blooms around our HQ at Calderstones Park is near the top of the list, and earlier this week she was joined on one of her walks by Louise Jones, a long-time group member. Louise gave Jane the remarkable news that since Jane announced her goal to get fit and raise money for the Calderstones Mansion project she has saved up £1 a week to put towards the fund. Not only that, but she presented Jane with the money that she has generously saved. A wonderful gesture which will go towards giving future generations a happy, welcoming and vibrant place to call a home from home. There’s still time to be part of the last push – you can sponsor Jane’s efforts by visiting her fundraising page.

The Happy List 2015 is available in full in today’s Independent on Sunday, and online. All the chosen 100 Happy Listers will be invited to a celebratory reception hosted in their honour by luxury hotel group Grange Hotels in central London this summer, and there’s even more exciting news ahead as every individual featured on the Happy List will also receive the accolade of being put forward for special recognition at the JustGiving 2015 Awards.

For more ways to feel happy, visit the dedicated Happy List digital hub: http://www.independent.co.uk/happylist/ and see @happylist100. Remember, you can always pop into one of our open shared reading groups around the UK too: see the full, up-to-date list on our website: http://www.thereader.org.uk/reading-with-us

Bungee Fest comes to Calderstones

“Jump and let’s build our wings on the way down” – Ray Bradbury

Bungee FestCould you swap Poe or Potter for a plunge, or substitute Lewis or Lessing for a leap? Want to take the title of Wuthering Heights quite literally? This summer we’re going to heights as before unreached as we bring Bungee Fest to Calderstones Park.

Over two days, Bungee Fest will combine live music, stalls, great food and refreshments with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience a 150 foot bungee jump. The first event of its kind in the city, we’re hoping that the sun will be shining and that lots of thrill-seekers and onlookers alike will join us for what will be a weekend to remember.

By taking on the staggering feat, our bungee-ing daredevils will be part of a much bigger picture. All the proceeds from Bungee Fest will go towards our fundraising target for Calderstones Mansion House, where we’re creating an International Centre for Reading and a community base for people to come together, build healthier communities, make friends and find employment. Through Calderstones Mansion, it’s our aim to give current and future generations the opportunity to discover shared reading, improve wellbeing and extend the pleasure and power of reading for all.

A great summer day out in the Park, an unparalleled opportunity and the chance to support a vital cause – who could ask for more?

Tickets for Bungee Fest cost £80, including admission fee and a donation to the Calderstones Mansion project. The brave amongst you will also receive a goody bag for taking part (as well as the exhilaration that comes from having jumped 150 feet). Snap up your tickets straight away by heading to bungeefest.eventbrite.co.uk

Find out more information about Bungee Fest by contacting emilycrawford@thereader.org.uk or visiting our website: http://www.thereader.org.uk/calderstones/bungee-fest

We’ll be bringing you more about Bungee Fest in the coming months, so stay tuned…

CEO Sleepout Liverpool

CEO Sleepout LiverpoolOn Thursday 26th March Everton in the Community – the official charity of Everton Football Club – will be giving business executives from across Liverpool the opportunity to do their part to tackle poverty deprivation and disadvantage across Merseyside as it hosts the North West’s CEO Sleepout event at Goodison Park.

In partnership with Church Urban Fund and Together Liverpool, the event will see over 40 of the city’s leading business figures joining forces to spend one night sleeping outdoors all to raise awareness and vital funds to improve the lives of some of Merseyside’s poorest and most marginalised people, giving up their beds to help those who don’t have one whatever the weather may be.

With Liverpool being rated as the most deprived local authority in England, poverty is an issue that affects thousands of lives. Working with Together Liverpool and the Diocese of Liverpool, Church Urban Fund have already supported nearly 400 projects in Liverpool to a value of £4.2 million, going some way towards changing lives for the better.

To date, CEO Sleepout events have raised over £300,000 around the UK, with an average of £1,000 per participant being raised at each event.

One of the executives taking part in CEO Sleepout Liverpool is Steve Hawkins, Chief Executive of Local Solutions and former trustee of The Reader Organisation. Being aware of the impact deprivation has on people’s lives having started his career working in a night shelter at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral’s crypt, the work Steve does at Local Solutions has seen thousands of homeless people being provided with accommodation and initiatives to prevent poverty. Taking part in this special event will help to do even more for the city’s poorest – and as a diehard Liverpool fan, spending a night at Goodison is no easy task!

Steve is currently on CEO Sleepout Liverpool’s ‘Hall of Fame’, but with a week to go until the event there’s plenty of time left to raise even more money. You can donate to Steve’s CEO Sleepout through his JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/Steve-Hawkins2

See a full list of the participants and find out more about CEO Sleepout Liverpool on the website: http://www.ceosleepoutuk.com/liverpool.html

Catch up on the latest details about the event on Twitter @CEOSleepOutUK and @churchurbanfund

Giving Tuesday

MFS_9477“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”- Charles Dickens

Today sees the start of a campaign that will hopefully make history and mark the beginning of an annual global celebration of giving.

For the first time, #GivingTuesday has launched in the UK. The campaign started in the US in 2012 as an antidote to the Christmas shopping frenzy – after the chaos of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday is all about giving back and making a difference in the true spirit of festive goodwill and charity. The inaugural #GivingTuesday in the UK has already attracted the support of big names including Helen Mirren and Michael Palin, and nearly 800 charities and organisations have signed up to become a partner of #GivingTuesday.

The Reader Organisation is very proud to be one of these partners and we’re delighted to be celebrating a day that is dedicated to giving and spreading awareness of good causes. We know how important it is to unite together to create a sense of belonging, wellbeing and community, as the heart of what we do week in, week out – running our read-aloud, shared reading groups across the country – is all about fostering these emotions and experiences. Our story has been featured on the #GivingTuesday website: http://givingtuesday.org.uk/stories/combat-a-disconnected-world.html

Calderstones Mansion House c Dave JonesYou can join in with our very first #GivingTuesday by helping us celebrate in a number of ways. For #GivingTuesday we have launched our online fundraising appeal for creating an International Centre for Reading at Calderstones Mansion House. In the past 18 months we have welcomed thousands of visitors of all ages to enjoy shared reading and a range of other special activities at the Mansion House, and we need help to raise the remainder of our £4m target to fully restore the Mansion, creating social enterprises, reading rooms and community venues at our beautiful site, which will generate sustainable income and create jobs. Our appeal page is now live, and you can donate £5, £10, £25, £50 or £100 to help us build a home for the heart at Calderstones Mansion: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/calderstonesmansion

A merry band of Reader Runners are getting into the festive spirit and taking part in the 5K Liverpool Santa Dash this coming Sunday 7th December, also fundraising towards Calderstones Mansion. If you haven’t yet braved the shops and are feeling stuck on what to buy your Secret Santa, why not donate the cost to Team TRO’s efforts instead? You can sponsor them here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/readerorg

If you’re feeling the pinch with Christmas approaching then you can still give your time, spare second-hand books or even your voice to TRO. We have a range of volunteering projects happening around the UK, from Merseyside to North London to the South West, all of which are dedicated to reaching more people with shared reading, and you can find out more about getting involved on our website. We’re always in need of second-hand books to engage more people with literature in our bookshop at Calderstones Mansion: you can drop them off at any time at the Mansion House between Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm.

You can also give the gift of shared reading to someone by passing a poem along this #GivingTuesday. We have a selection that’s fit to bursting right here on The Reader Online with our Featured Poem archive, or you can read one of your favourites aloud. We particularly like this one by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Give all to love;
Obey thy heart;
Friends, kindred, days,
Estate, good-frame,
Plans, credit and the Muse,—
Nothing refuse.

’T is a brave master;
Let it have scope:
Follow it utterly,
Hope beyond hope:
High and more high
It dives into noon,
With wing unspent,
Untold intent:
But it is a god,
Knows its own path
And the outlets of the sky.

(Read the full poem here)

You can find out more about #GivingTuesday on the website: http://givingtuesday.org.uk/welcome.html

A Marathon effort

dementia 4Here at The Reader Organisation, we couldn’t continue to do the work we do reaching thousands of people with shared reading across the UK on a weekly basis without generous support from friends and fundraisers from all corners. One such supporter took on the great feat of running the 26.2 mile stretch of the world famous London Marathon last month, and all of us would like to say a huge thank you to Angela Boland who has raised over £1,000 to support our work. We hope that you’ve had lots of chances to put your feet up since, Angela!

Our Head of Development Sophie Povey caught up with Angela at the newly opened Reader Cafe at Calderstones Mansion House to talk about her big achievement:

Angela works at the University of Liverpool and recently attended a shared reading session in a Wirral care home where she was conducting a research project considering the value of shared reading for adults living with Dementia. It was this experience that made Angela want to support TRO – she felt that the project had a real, positive impact on the adults in the group, but also on staff and relatives; “one particular relative told me that was brilliant being able to hear her mother taking part in the session, that it was like having her back”.

Being a passionate reader herself, Angela felt that felt TRO was the ideal choice when looking for a good cause for sponsorship. She said that running the London Marathon was a fantastic experience – the crowds were incredible and the sun was shining – and the magnificent sponsorship she raised will enable us to train a new Reader Leader to run shared reading groups in the North West.

A big thanks once again to Angela, and we’re delighted that her efforts will lead to even more people getting the chance to connect with great literature and each other.

If you want to support The Reader Organisation then you don’t have to go to quite the same lengths – any donation, however big or small, is much appreciated and will enable us to reach some of the most vulnerable people in society with our shared reading projects around the country. You can donate online at our Virgin Money Online page, or find out how else you can support us by clicking through to our website: http://www.thereader.org.uk/make-a-donation

The Big Night Benefit

If you’re in London this weekend, you can enjoy a night of fun, film, dancing and fifties fabulous-ness at one of the city’s best kept secrets big night benefitWhirled Cinema. Not only this, but your night out will be benefiting The Reader Organisation!

Maggie Roy, a kind and generous friend of The Reader Organisation, has arranged this Big Night Benefit to raise money for our work in London and around the UK.

Come along and kick-start your night with a classy cocktail, enjoy a screening of ‘Big Night’, an Italian Feast of a film about love, family and food, then turn the music up to dance the night away. Fifties-style glad rags are very welcome – we look forward to seeing you there!

Big Night Benefit: Saturday January 25th 2014
7pm Cocktails, 8pm Film and dancing

Venue: Whirled Cinema, 259-260 Hardess St, London SE24 0HN

Advance Tickets: £10.Visit our website to find out how to reserve your place.

All proceeds to benefit The Reader Organisation

Impact48 and The Reader Organisation – 48 hours to get Liverpool reading

impact48_tightImpact48 and The Reader Organisation
6pm Friday 24th January – 6pm Sunday 26th January 2014
Calderstones Mansion House

Something big is happening at The Reader Organisation’s base at Calderstones Mansion House this January, as we join up with Impact48 to further the reading revolution.

2014 is Liverpool’s Year of Reading and as part of our partnership with Liverpool Council and Liverpool Learning Partnership we’re launching our City of Readers project which aims to get the whole city reading – through schools, through families, through businesses all sharing reading with one another. Over 48 hours we’ll be joining up with Impact48 to develop a website for Liverpool City of Readers, build apps and create a marketing campaign that will use social media to help promote the project.

Calderstones Mansion House c Dave JonesImpact48 events bring together a charity, a sponsor and a team of volunteers to spend a fun and challenging 48 hours making a positive impact to the organisation at its centre. Previous Impact48 events have worked with Music in Hospitals Scotland and Edinburgh Cyrenians, and we’re excited that they’ll be coming to Liverpool to spend a weekend at Calderstones, creating something big that will impact so many people.

48 hours will take a lot of motivation and people power to complete, so we’re looking for volunteers to get on board and be part of the weekend. Are you or do you know I.T and web specialists, software developers and app developers who could help us to realise our vision of city-wide reading using technology?

We’re also looking to kick start the City of Readers project and Liverpool’s Year of Reading by using the time to record 48 hours of reading and collect 4,800 books that can be used as part of the project. Anyone is welcome to come along, give us some time and some books, pop into the Mansion House for a chat, coffee and look around.

To register your interest to volunteer at the weekend at Calderstones Mansion House, head over to the Impact48 website.

You can also follow Impact48 on Twitter: @RealImpact48 and #impact48

The Big Give Christmas Challenge: Shared Reading for Everyone


Donate Online

It’s the last day of The Big Give Christmas Challenge, where we’re hoping to raise £20,000 to extend our shared reading projects even further. If you donate online as close as possible to 10am today, your donation could be doubled by match funding from The Garfield Weston Foundation – no matter if it’s £1 or £100.

Each week our Project Workers across the UK share stories and poems aloud with hundreds of beneficiaries of all ages, from all different backgrounds and walks of life. As one Project Worker reads with people living with dementia in a care home, another shares a book with people from the local community in a library. While storytime sessions take place with toddlers and young children and their parents and carers, a shared reading group is running elsewhere in a workplace setting. The people we read with are as varied as the stories we read, with each person taking something special and unique to them away from their shared reading experience:

‘It’s good. I’ve never read like that before – I mean I’ve read aloud but I’ve never paid much attention to what I’ve been reading – you know thinking about the meaning of it and that. But this is good and we’ve got all that from this little story!’

“I’ve found a real sense of community and belonging in my group.  It’s helped me to come out of isolation when not very well.”

“[The group] is like sitting around a fire and telling stories to each other – a way of binding us together.”

We’re currently running a workplace project in Plus Dane Housing in Merseyside, where employees are benefitting from time spent sharing reading together:

Any size donation is hugely appreciated – go to TRO’s profile on The Big Give Website and click the ‘Donate Online Now’ button or click here to donate directly as near to 10am as possible today (Saturday 6th December) and your donation could be doubled in aid of helping to further the reading revolution.