Volunteering with The Reader Organisation in Devon

reading 1The Reader Organisation’s volunteering presence is about to grow in South West England, as we look for more people to help us continue to develop our shared reading projects in the area.

We’ve already got valued volunteers on board with us in Wiltshire reading with people living with dementia, and now we’re recruiting for volunteer group facilitators for our community shared reading project in Devon.

Applicants will join us to run Feel Better with a Book groups at libraries in Exeter, Tiverton and Cullompton. Funded by Devon County Council and run by The Reader Organisation, Feel Better with a Book groups provide a stimulating environment where people can meet weekly to connect with each other through the shared reading of great literature. This opportunity will give you the chance to become part of The Reader Organisation in the South West, receiving fully funded training, as well as engage with literature on a fresh and emotionally stimulating perspective.

For a short amount of time – one and a half hours per week – you will be acting as an assistant group facilitator in a weekly Feel Better with a Book group before training to independently facilitate the same group. We ask for a minimum of a one year commitment, but the opportunity is ongoing and can last for as long as you and your group want it to.

This position will also benefit from a free place on The Reader Organisation’s revolutionary Read to Lead training, a three-day course in shared reading which will qualify you as a shared reading practitioner able to facilitate in community settings. The three day training will take place at The Hayridge Centre, Cullompton, Devon from Tuesday 25th – Thursday 27th November.

One of current volunteers in Devon explains what volunteering with The Reader Organisation means to her:

“I saw the opportunity to be a ‘Read to Lead’  volunteer as a way of combining what I most enjoy; being in conversation with people of all ages and reading wonderful literature together.  I am learning new ways of appreciating others’ thoughts and responses to what has been read, as well as becoming better at listening and staying focused in general.   The group is fun, engaging and relaxed at the same time. I have been reading a lot more on my own steam too – as a result of feeling inspired to do so.  This is volunteering at its best for me!”

If you have excellent literacy and comprehension, are good at reading aloud or willing to learn to improve your skills, have the ability to manage group dynamics and a desire to relate to people in an open and human way, you could become a Volunteer Assistant Group Facilitator with us in Devon.

For more information on volunteering with us in Devon, please contact Emily Lezzeri: emilylezzeri@thereader.org.uk or call 07450 167788, and see our website: http://www.thereader.org.uk/working-with-us/volunteering/south-west

Full details of our open Feel Better with a Book groups running across Devon and the South West can be found on our website: http://www.thereader.org.uk/reading-with-us

Reading Round-Up: 9th August-22nd August

Book Close UpHere we are with another Reading Round-Up, giving you all the literary latest from the last fortnight with our Arts Admin Intern Rebecca Pollard:

The Hachette vs. Amazon war is still waging on. If you aren’t aware of what is going on with this, Hachette and Amazon have exchanged open letters to each other which has resulted in Amazon halting the sales of Hachette novels on their website, and hundreds of authors publishing an open letter against Amazon.

In an effort to remain impartial (this battle has split readers across the world), you can read a summary of what has happened so far on the Guardian website.


A recent Ofcom report has shown that the bookshelves of Britain are still stocked full with literature. The report shows that 16-24-year olds have the smallest book collections, and 55-64-year olds have the largest. It also highlights that whilst physical book collections have dwindled, ebook sales are on the rise – showing that literature is still consumed and appreciated by modern readers.

You can read more on this story on the Guardian website.


There has been controversy around the Warburg Institute, which is cared for by the University of London. Academics have spoken out against the University of London who are currently rumoured to be investigating the legality of the contract they signed with the Warburg family in 1944.

The Warburg Institute’s main concern is ‘cultural history, art history and history of ideas, especially in the Renaissance’; it remains significant, however, due to its removal (and the smuggling of its physical book collection) from Nazi Germany to London.

You can find more about this story here, and discover more about the Warburg Institute on their website.


Three schools in East Devon have come together to write a combined novel. In this Telegraph article, Jane Bidder writes about how children were collectively inspired and involved with the process of writing a story. The children were given an opening chapter, and then asked to choose what the characters should look like, and how the plot should continue.

The idea was thought up by NAFDAS (National Association of Decorative and Fine Art Societies) as a way of encouraging creativity amongst schoolchildren.

You can read the full story on The Telegraph website.


Julian Gough has created a Kickstarter campaign to fund his newest novel, and has equally found an ingenious new way of funding new literature. He argues that ‘the market in the written ephemera of writers is huge’ but that no modern authors leave a paper trail. He is repaying his backers with postcards, PDFs of his stories, and more besides. He believes that this idea – which he has dubbed ‘Litcoin’ – could be a new way of funding authors who are often very underpaid.

The Guardian reports the story here.


On the lighter side of literature, the Nottingham Post has recently reported on a woman who has 10,000 children’s books in her shed. Arguably in possession of a bibliophile’s dream (or the biggest shed known to man), Gillian James buys and sells her books from her back garden.

The Independent has recently reported that the attic that was used as the inspiration for Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre has recently been opened to the public. Norton Conyers have opened their doors for people wishing to see to where Bertha was confined in Mr Rochester’s home.

Don’t forget, you can keep in touch with what’s happening at TRO by following us on Twitter: @thereaderorg

Think You Could Lead?

Reading group with smiley womanThe Reader Organisation are delivering three new upcoming Read To Lead courses this October in Devon, Glasgow and London. If you have a passion for sharing literature, then Read To Lead is a fantastic opportunity to help get others into reading.

Read To Lead courses take place across three days in which you will learn about the working practices of shared reading, explore its profound benefits for well-being, and connect with other shared reading practitioners both past and present. This is followed by an exclusive 12-month Ongoing Learning provision, which will enable you to deliver shared reading sessions informed by The Reader Organisation’s visionary practice.

Benefits of being a shared reading practitioner are numerous both for you and your beneficiaries. Not only does it develop an appreciation of literature and its social value, it also increases confidence, social awareness, group facilitatation skills and communication skills. You’ll enjoy a varied working environment where no two days are the same, and become part of an extraordinary network that is diverse, supportive and stimulating.

It’s a wonderful journey; a homecoming of sorts. I really like the motion and experience of something coming to life off the page and becoming real to the hearer in the moment.

Read to Lead re-energised me. You can get so bogged down, ticking other people’s boxes, but this helped me to focus on what is important and helped to build what we hope will be lasting partnerships.

Most gratifyingly, the sense of accomplishment and purpose which I get from running my group has spilled over into a general increase in my job satisfaction.

A background in literature or education is not necessary – we welcome people from all professions and social groups. All we look for is a strong belief in the social value of reading; passion; curiosity, and bags of enthusiasm.

Courses cost £750 per person (including the 12 month Ongoing Learning), with £250 concessionary places available, and there are flexible payment options to suit all.

To find your nearest Read To Lead course and book a place, simply visit www.thereader.org.uk/courses or contact our Literary Learning Co-ordinator Sophie Johnson at sophiejohnson@thereader.org.uk.

Devon MP to visit Feel Better With A Book

This week’s meeting of our weekly Feel Better With A Book group in Totnes Library, Devon will be a particularly special one as Dr Sarah Wollaston MP is visiting to find out more about the pioneering scheme in the South West andshare some reading as well as discuss the Government’s new Care Bill.

back cover of book black and whiteEarlier this year, Devon County Council invested a further £100,000 in Get Into Reading in the area, joining forces with The Reader Organisation to expand the successful year-long pilot programme and create Reading Together in Devon – a county-wide network five of Library Memory Groups for those with memory loss conditions and their carers, and seven Feel Better with A Book groups for those wanting to lift their mood and engage with others for enjoyment and general support.

Each week, Feel Better With A Book groups are providing a positive experience to members with a variety of different needs, including carers and ex-carers, people with anxiety/depression and in mental health recovery, people bereaved and socially isolated amongst others. The benefits of connecting with great literature and other people are having a great effect:

‘I feel uplifted after coming here, not tired anymore’

‘I was so elated when I went home last week, that I got out of my wheelchair and stepped around the room’

The Totnes Feel Better With A Book group is every Friday in the School Room of Totnes Library, 2-3.30pm. Tomorrow’s session (Friday 23rd August) will include an informal open meeting with Dr Sarah Wollaston MP at 3-3.45pm where anyone who has mental or physical vulnerabilities, or cares for someone who does, will have the opportunity to ask questions and find out more about the government’s new Care Bill.

Find out more about the Feel Better With A Book project and our work in the South West by visiting the Where We Work section of our website. Full details of all of our current open weekly shared reading in Devon can be found on our Reading With Us group map and the Devon County Council website.