A new chapter for Shared Reading in North Wales

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North Wales Readers bring Shared Reading to the top of  Snowdon

As the Make Friends With a Book project signs off, we celebrate the hard work of the wonderful staff who made it possible and the volunteers who’ll continue to keep Shared Reading alive in North Wales.

Continue reading “A new chapter for Shared Reading in North Wales”

Poets Don’t Lie – The Reader Volunteer Anthology

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Introducing our latest anthology, Poets Don’t Lie, created by and dedicated to the volunteers who make possible so many of our Shared Reading projects across the UK.
Continue reading “Poets Don’t Lie – The Reader Volunteer Anthology”

The Reader Review of 2015

“If this life of ours
Be a good glad thing, why should we make us merry
Because a year of it is gone?”
– Alfred, Lord Tennyson

P1000516It’s been a year of merriment as well as hard work, development and much Shared Reading around the UK, but before we close the momentous chapter of 2015, we want to take a little look back on just a few of the highlights of the past twelve months at The Reader.

From Liverpool, via Leicestershire, to London – Shared Reading across the country

Our Shared Reading model reaches people of all ages, demographics and settings, and in 2015 we’ve been able to bring Shared Reading to new places, as well as extending it across regions we’re already working in.

In Liverpool, there’s been a strong focus on our projects with children and young people where we’re encouraging a love of reading for pleasure from an early age, along with our partners at City of Readers. We’ve been delighted to help lead the way with reading as an early intervention in nurseries across the city and have ensured that a legacy can continue with little ones, parents and carers by the distribution of 300 Story Time boxes to nurseries and families. Our Off The Page project – our biggest volunteering project to date – started its three-year journey, reaching disadvantaged young people across the city with one-to-one weekly reading sessions that show how fulfilling connecting with books can be. Over in the Wirral, we started a similar project for Looked After Children, funded by Children in Need.

It’s been a big year for new projects in the North West, with Shared Reading coming to Knowsley, Cheshire East and Cheshire West and Chester, with groups for the community, older people living with dementia and carers. In Sheffield we celebrated the last four years of Shared Reading across Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust with a special event, and extended our volunteer-led project with Leicestershire Libraries in Leicester.

In the Southern parts of the country, our London projects went strength to strength with reading for wellbeing across South London, funded by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity and the Maudsley Charity, a new memory loss group in conjunction with Tesco as part of our Barnet project and volunteering opportunities in West London. We brought Shared Reading to Somerset and our Wiltshire project for people living with dementia and memory loss became an award winner.

‘Great things are done when Men and Mountains meet’ – Shared Reading and Events

2015 was another year for wonderful events, many of which took place at our base at Calderstones Mansion. We welcomed Nicolette Jones and Frank Cottrell Boyce for a celebration of the 100 Modern Children’s Classics, hosted a summer spectacular of theatre which included the return of Shakespeare’s Globe on Tour with the classic Romeo and Juliet, brought together literature, art and music with Ad Hoc Creative EXPO and brought together more than a hundred of our group members, volunteers and trustees at an inspiring AGM.

Misty summit reading close upWe joined forces with City of Readers and Beanstalk to bring a day of reading across five locations in Liverpool with Anytime is Storytime in the summer, and brought something very Big to Calderstones in the form of The Big Dig, the first archaeological dig at the park to involve volunteers from the local community. Taking on big challenges was something of a theme this year as our team in North Wales organised the highest ever Shared Reading group at the peak of Mount Snowdon, overcoming all difficulties and perilous weather conditions.

The year rounded off in fine style with the twelfth annual Penny Readings at St George’s Hall. Another sell-out festive extravaganza saw captivating performances from Frank Cottrell Boyce, Maxine Peake and Shaun Evans.

A Year of The Reader – and other Great News

The Reader offered up more literary goodness and thought-provoking pieces throughout 2015, with issues offering contributions and interviews from names including Tim Parks, Ken Loach, Salley Vickers, David Constantine, Bill Bailey and Blake Morrison.

The value of Shared Reading continued to make an impact as we were shortlisted for the Social Enterprise Network Powerful Together Awards and the 2015 Natwest SE100 Awards, along with 21 other organisations in the UK. Our status as a social enterprise doing good for health and wellbeing rose as we were part of a rising contingent in the North West on the SE100 Index; even better news when we’re rapidly expanding our social enterprise work at Calderstones Mansion.

P1000158Our year ended with two big pieces of news that will ensure that our work can reach many more people who will benefit from Shared Reading can continue into the future. In November, we were delighted to continue our partnership with Social Business Trust as they awarded us funding and business support worth £1.5million which will help us to reach 27,000 people by 2018. Earlier this month we were able to secure the future of the International Centre for Reading at Calderstones with a confirmed grant of nearly £2million from Heritage Lottery Fund, rebuilding the future of Calderstones whilst celebrating its past heritage.

All of this made us very happy indeed – very appropriate considering that Jane made the Independent on Sunday’s Happy List this year!

We’re looking forward to the year to come, with two big things on the horizon early on – the launch of The Storybarn and A Little, Aloud With Love, the newest member of the A Little, Aloud anthology series. There’ll be lots more to come, including more stories from our group members and readers, and so as 2016 approaches we’re embracing Lord Tennyson’s outlook:

but Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”

From all at The Reader, we wish you a happy and restful festive season.

Taking Shared Reading to new heights

Snowdon 3It was William Blake in his Poetical Works who said “Great things are done when Men and Mountains meet/This is not Done by jostling in the Street”. A great thing was certainly done on Sunday 20th September when the highest shared reading group in Wales – and England – took place at the summit of Mount Snowdon.

We’re always game for a challenge at The Reader, as well as constantly seeking to take shared reading to new places never before ventured. Earlier this year our North Wales team began to plan for the intrepid adventure, taking into account important things such as logistics, weather and the various safety concerns that come with reading upon the 1,085m peak of the highest point in the British Isles outside of the Scottish Highlands. The shared reading group members, volunteers and Reader staff were gathered and briefed and finally, a date in September was settled upon. Early Autumn would surely provide dry and fairly sunny conditions to enjoy the group reading as well as the breathtaking views…

Setting off on the Snowdon Mountain Railway
Setting off on the Snowdon Mountain Railway

Unfortunately the British weather couldn’t be as well organised as the rest of the trip, and our band of brave Readers were met with wet, windy and foggy conditions at the top of the mountain. Luckily they were able to remain dry for the majority of the journey, boarding the Snowdon Mountain Railway and warming up with a selection of poems before making it triumphant – if a little weather-worn – to the summit.

For such a momentous occasion, the choice of poem to read aloud became all the more significant. There are plenty of Welsh literary greats who would have proved fitting, but we had to plump for a poem written about the most difficult route to the summit of Mount Snowdon. Even if our team of mountaineers didn’t tread the path of Crib Goch, the readings of Y Grib Goch in Welsh by T. Rowland Hughes and the English translation Crib Goch by Catherine Fisher captured the spirit, history and atmosphere atop the peak, as well as signifying the true versatility of shared reading – there really is a suitable poem for every occasion! On the way back down the mountain, there was more group shared reading in store to celebrate a successful attempt with euphoria and a sense of achievement running high.

The journey, as well as the stirring bilingual readings, were captured on camera for those of us with our feet firmly on ground level terrain to enjoy:

Enjoying a spot of shared reading to warm up for the summit
Enjoying a spot of shared reading to warm up for the summit

A mountain-sized thanks goes to our North Wales Project Coordinator Jeanette who had the tricky task of organising the expedition against all the adversities, making sure the day was both safe and successful for everyone involved. The group has been submitted to the Guinness Book of World Records for the highest shared reading group to have ever taken place, so we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed that we can be recognised as a record breaker.

Jeanette also made the airwaves before leading our band of Readers up into the air, speaking to Wynne Jones on his Big Welsh Weekend show on BBC Radio Wales about the expedition. Listen from 47 minutes 30 seconds in: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06b3jxl (27 days left to listen)

Llongyfarchiadau to everyone involved!

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Volunteers Week: From Group Member to Volunteer in North Wales

“I think volunteering and community work is very valuable for me and also for society as a whole.”

“Volunteering here is as much for my enjoyment as the members of the group…it’s not all about literature, but more about facilitating real and sometimes emotionally significant discussions which really pay off as people get to know each other and the different pieces.”

– volunteer shared reading group facilitators, North Wales

Today for our celebrations in Volunteers Week, we’re saying a big ‘diolch yn fawr’ to our volunteers in North Wales. Since our bilingual Llais a Llyfr/Make Friends with a Book project began in the region in 2013, our team of volunteer group facilitators have been vital in spreading shared reading across all six counties – in fact, they outnumber our two project workers by a considerable ratio!

United by a love for literature, our volunteers scatter around the region on a weekly basis – in some cases, making journeys that are 16 miles long – to share a carefully chosen and prepared selection of stories, poems and novels with communities, in English and Welsh, along with lots of tea and biscuits.

One of our volunteers really understands the ins and outs of shared reading – Mavis came along to one of the groups and became a long standing member. Having gained in self-confidence and feeling increasingly comfortable and enthused by the literature, she expressed an interest in volunteering with one of the groups and has been on board ever since.

Mavis tells us more of her journey from group member to volunteer in her own words:

I came to the reading group shortly after losing my husband, as I used to come to the library thinking it was the only place I had the confidence to go. Right from the word go I felt comfortable, I could talk easily with people and there was a kind of friendship right from the very beginning with everyone that attended. The group was an island of calm as I was still coming to terms with the ordeal and turmoil of losing my dear husband. With the group I was able to indulge in my passion of reading with some nice people who also had a love of books and reading. It also opened up new horizons, expanding both the range and scope of literature amongst everyone there. Reading aloud and sharing opinions with the group members has helped enormously in my self confidence gradually returning.

I was both happy and surprised when it was suggested that, perhaps, I should to go on the Volunteer Facilitator 3 Day Workshop at Llanberis.  As a very mature lady (in years) I took my courage in both hands and registered my interest. Fortunately I was accepted and completed the course. I think the group has given me the confidence to speak out. I never thought I could read out aloud, in public kind of thing. It was a big leap of faith for me, but I thought ‘I’ve come this far’, and you can’t do half measures; you must go on…and so I did.

I went into the training feeling rather nervous to begin with, but it was just like entering a bigger reading group. As a volunteer I’m hoping I can help people in the way that the group has helped me, that it will bring to them a different kind of literature that they’ve never thought of reading before and that they find interesting and enable them to go further with their reading.

In becoming a Volunteer Facilitator I am now able, in a small way, repay all the help, belief and encouragement the group and the organisation have given me over the last 12 months. It has brought back my confidence, given me new friends, who have invited me to poetry & book readings, a guitar recital in the cathedral and a local musical concert. So I now feel that my life has purpose and I have re-joined the Human Race. Thank you so very, very much!

Thank you, Mavis – and also to our many other fantastic volunteers in North Wales.

Find out more about our North Wales project and volunteering with us in the area on our website.

The Reader Organisation’s Review of 2014: Part 2

Yesterday we brought you the first part of our highlights from 2014 – from feeling Better with a Book to Shakespeare to a visit from a Royal guest…

Here’s the second part of what happened at The Reader Organisation this year:

Book Close UpResearch

Our research partners CRILS at the University of Liverpool are seeking to set the world agenda in reading, health and wellbeing and the role of literature in modelling creative thinking about human existence. Contributing to a growing evidence base, three new reports were published this year by CRILS with partners including the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen NHS Hospital Trust which demonstrate the impacts of shared reading to participants in groups in a range of settings.

Specific studies examining a literature-based intervention for people living with chronic pain and development of research into how shared reading improves quality of life for people living with dementia brought forth a number of positive findings, and the intrinsic cultural value of The Reader Organisation’s weekly shared reading groups in providing a meaningful experience for different sectors of communities was also brought into the spotlight. All three reports can be read in detail on our website.

Courses

This year we created many more shared reading practitioners around the UK and internationally with our revolutionary Read to Lead course. We’ve worked with a range of organisations in places including Calderstones Mansion House, Sheffield, Leicester, Derry, Durham, Devon, and Flanders in Belgium – equipping hundreds of people with the skills to share reading in their workplaces and communities.

Our Ongoing Learning programme brought more Masterclasses touring around the country, and there was a brilliant programme of Short Courses for Serious Readers throughout the year discovering a wealth of great literature from varying topics and eras including The Divine Comedy by Dante, a Whizz-tour through the World of Children’s Literature and learning to Feel the Fear and Read it Anyway with selections of challenging literature.

Awards

Klasse_Jane_Davis-0053-bewerkt 72 dpiWe were delighted to have our impact recognised on a local and national scale by being shortlisted for the Culture Champion award in the Powerful Together Awards for Social Enterprises across Merseyside and the Resilence category at the RBS SE100 Awards – both amazing achievements.

Our Founder and Director Jane Davis was nominated for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year in the Northern heats and shortlisted for Social Enterprise UK’s Women’s Champion Award.

Other highlights

There were plenty of other wonderful things we took part in this year, including a global celebration of reading aloud on World Read Aloud Day, bringing shared reading to the bill at Latitude Festival, combining poetry with the great outdoors on World Mental Health Day and delivering taster sessions at the Literary Kitchen Festival in South London.

This year also saw the expansion of our work into other areas of communal life, namely the opening of The Reader Cafe and The Reader Gallery at Calderstones Mansion House, which have been bustling with people enjoying local exhibitions and a scrumptious selection of food and drink alongside a poem.

G31A7233In September, we signed a lease with Liverpool City Council for Calderstones Mansion House giving us residency for 125 years, allowing us to begin the next stages of development for the International Centre for Reading – and we also relocated our Head Office to the beautiful surroundings of Calderstones too.

Shared reading

Great literature remains at the heart of what we do and this year we expanded the core of our work, bringing shared reading and its benefits to even more people across the country. We began new projects for people with dementia/memory loss and their carers in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, enabled more volunteers to join us to share reading in London, North Wales, South West and Leicestershire, began a pioneering project with service users, staff and volunteers at Phoenix Futures and employed our first Reader-in-Residence in Sheffield.

Without doubt the best of our highlights come from our Readers who shared their remarkable stories with us, including Shad, D and A.

“Like a person who is discovering his senses I am becoming aware of the wonders of existence that I once took for granted,  but that was cruelly snatched from me by adverse circumstances… I am once again discovering the joy of settling down to a good read.”

Our thanks go out to everyone who has supported us throughout the year – our work could not continue without the valued input of so many people. We hope to keep reading with you for years to come!

You can read more about our work in our Annual Report 2013/14, available on our website.

We’ll be back in the New Year, and until then wish you all a very happy and peaceful festive season.

 

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

The Reader Organisation’s Annual Report 2013/14

peckhamFollowing a successful 2014 AGM last week – our second held at our new HQ, Calderstones Mansion HouseThe Reader Organisation’s Annual Report for 2013/14 is now available on our website to read and download.

Our latest Annual Report charts what has been the biggest period of growth and development for TRO, with more shared reading projects expanding across the UK. Highlights of the year include a significant boost to our community projects in South London thanks to the development of a 3 year project to establish more than 100 shared reading groups across the area which meet the needs of the ‘whole person’ – a health priority flagged up at our National Conference 2013 by Andy Burnham MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health; an expansion of our North Wales project, which is crucially volunteer-led to help us reach some of the most remote parts of the UK; a Reader-in-Residence project which saw shared reading brought to the heart of a workplace across Merseyside, and ongoing work with our partners including Mersey Care, Liverpool Hope University and CRILS (Centre for Research into Reading, Literature and Society).

The report charts our work across a number of areas, including Health and Wellbeing, Dementia, Criminal Justice and Children and Young People, and also showcases the impact of shared reading in its most vital and human sense, as told through the words of some of our Readers from a variety of settings and places:

“I’ve experienced so many emotions; failure, success, fear, laughter, tension and escapism. Most of all, how enjoyable and magical reading can be.” – D, a shared Reader

“I… have learnt more of what it is to be a human being, the role of emotions in myself and others, in fact
the whole range of human experience… than I have in half a dozen psychological “treatments” ” – group member in Criminal Justice setting

“New friendships have been formed, new horizons opened up and confidence has been boosted. The reading
revolution has started in Buckley Library!” – North Wales Project volunteer

In a year which has also seen us consolidate our work in a practical sense with support from Big Venture Challenge and Social Business Trust, it is a heartening achievement that the serious pleasure of serious reading is continuing to spread further from its strengthened roots.

The Reader Organisation’s Annual report 2013/14 can be downloaded or read on our website: http://www.thereader.org.uk/who-we-are/annual-report

 

 

Reading and Volunteering

Four women talk about The Unforgotten Coat outdoorsOur shared reading projects across the UK are showing that reading is not only good for enriching the mind, but has a profound social benefit. Shared reading in Wirral is bringing an average of £6.47 worth of social value to group members for every £1 invested, improving their wellbeing, and huge impacts of regular shared reading sessions include increased personal confidence and self esteem, social engagement and participation in the community. Evaluations of our work have shown:

  • 75% of group members feel more confident about socialising
  • 96% see the group as an opportunity to meet people they wouldn’t usually meet in their day-to-day life

Also, over two thirds of group members reported that they are more likely to consider volunteering or have become a volunteer since being part of a shared reading group. It’s not surprising that reading relates to greater social activity – a 2004 study by the National Endowment for the Arts in America found that literary readers are much more likely to participate socially than those who do not read, attending arts events at a higher rate and being over two and a half times more likely to do volunteer or charity work within their communities [NEA Research Division, Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America (2004)].

The Reader Organisation has a volunteering programme that is fast expanding, and we currently run a range of schemes across the UK which give our readers a chance to become more involved as volunteers, spreading the joy and social benefits of shared reading even further, often to some of the most vulnerable people in society. In our volunteering programmes in Merseyside and Barnet, North London, volunteers can go on to read with older people in care homes and those living with dementia, making a real and measurable difference to lives that are otherwise isolated. As part of our North Wales project, we’re building a bank of volunteers who will help us to embed a culture of shared reading across the region over the next three years.

All of our volunteers receive support and training from The Reader Organisation staff and as well as benefitting the lives of others can further their own development.

“I feel very privileged to volunteer with this group. The members are truly inspiring. It keeps me learning too.”

“It’s a responsibility and it’s a joy. It’s a commitment and it’s a privilege.”

Find out more about volunteering with The Reader Organisation in Merseyside, London and North Wales by visiting our website: http://www.thereader.org.uk/working-with-us/volunteering

You can also read more about some of our volunteers and their experiences in their own words in our Reader Stories: http://www.thereader.org.uk/reader-stories

We’ll be sharing more about our volunteering opportunities in Barnet, as they expand to include two new projects, in the coming weeks here on The Reader Online.

2013 at The Reader Organisation: A Year in Review Part 2

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.

July

042The 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.

August

king learShakespeare’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

awardSeptember 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.

October

Jen's group with ALAfC 72dpiOur 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 theRead For Life’ event at University of Liverpool, shared reading about dignity for Global Dignity Day and had lots of Half-Term Hijinks at Calderstones.

November

MRL_5280We 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.

December

christmas reading onlineThe 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…