The Reader at Calderstones secures £1.99m Heritage Lottery Fund investment

heritage_lottery_fund_web2015 has been another big year of expansion at our base at Calderstones and we’re very pleased to announce that the next stage of redevelopment of Calderstones Mansion is imminent, thanks to a secured confirmed grant of £1.99million from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

In 2014, The Reader at Calderstones project received initial first-round development funding and support from HLF, focusing on building a series of history-based events, talks and workshops showcasing the heritage of the Mansion and the surrounding park. The new investment will enable us to build on the work that has already taken place creating a flagship International Centre for Reading for the future of the Grade II listed building whilst also commemorating and celebrating its past glories.

Sara Hilton, Head of HLF North West, said:

“The Reader is a real Liverpool success story that helps thousands of people get together to share their love of reading. We were hugely impressed by these proposals that will bring an exciting new use to the 19th century Mansion House and help many more people discover the history of the 4000 year old Calderstones. Special thanks must go to National Lottery players for making our investment possible.”

House-92A crucial part of the regeneration will be the rehousing of The Calderstones, the oldest human monument in Liverpool. These forgotten Neolithic treasures are older than the Pyramids and will now be brought back into the heart of Calderstones Park, where their conditions will be significantly improved for present and future generations to enjoy. Liverpool City Council, National Museums Liverpool and Manchester University have all been consulted as part of the process.

Initial work will begin in 2016 to secure the building which over the years has fallen into a state of disrepair. Currently hidden architecturally significant elements will be carefully revealed and restored, bringing the Mansion back to life.

The finished regeneration of the building will house a heritage room which will show how one of the many rooms in the Mansion may have looked in 1880 in its heyday. Visitors will get the opportunity to interact with objects and learn about the history of the house at that time. As well as these key historical features, there will be four reading rooms allowing us to continue our shared reading groups at Calderstones, bringing people together to read great literature out loud as a practical way of improving wellbeing, building stronger communities and extending reading pleasure. A newly created bistro will also allow visitors to relax after their visit and soak up and reflect on the atmosphere of the house.

ReadingGroup-11Our Founder and Director Dr Jane Davis has expressed her excitement on behalf of The Reader at the wonderful news:

“We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support. It will allow us to grasp this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create something truly special at Calderstones for the city of Liverpool and beyond. Not only will this mean we can offer more of our reading groups and continue to grow our wellbeing initiatives here but we can carefully bring The Calderstones themselves back to their rightful place at the heart of the park to be enjoyed and cherished by visitors.”

With this news we’re looking forward to 2016 bringing in the biggest chapter yet in the story of Calderstones Mansion.

For more news and updates about what’s happening at the Mansion, head over to the Calderstones Mansion blog.

Social Business Trust backs The Reader with £1.5m support

SBT Logo RGBWe’re delighted to announce the news that Social Business Trust has awarded £1.5 million worth of funding and business support to The Reader, allowing us to reach many more people across the country through shared reading.

We’ve been working with SBT since 2013, when their initial funding and investment of £280,000 gave us the learning and support needed to grow and strengthen the core of what we do. Expertise from SBT’s corporate partners including British Gas have enabled us to develop our projects, measure our impacts and help people who need the benefits that our unique and innovative shared reading model can bring. Thanks to continued support from SBT through this new package of funding, we’ll be able to more than double the number of people we reach from 11,000 a year to 27,000 by 2018.

Adele Blakeborough MBE, CEO of Social Business Trust has seen the effects of shared reading for herself:

“It is incredibly moving and compelling to see the difference The Reader makes to thousands of vulnerable people through its simple model of shared reading groups. We know there is scope to expand The Reader’s important work more extensively across the country and are delighted to support the organisation to achieve that growth.”

MFS_9275Our shared reading groups take place in a variety of settings around the UK including prisons, mental health centres, care homes and local communities. The simple model of reading aloud in facilitated groups is proven to support positive mental health and wellbeing, combating isolation, calming aggression and helping people with dementia. Through the act of reading on a regular basis with others, people can connect with a better understanding of themselves, realise opportunities they might not have thought possible and make changes in their lives.

We’re already helping people like Angela to do this:

Angela from Liverpool has bipolar affected disorder and experienced a full nervous breakdown three years ago. She joined a group at The Reader a year ago and then started volunteering on reception at our head office. As a result of building her confidence and experience, she is about to begin a paid job.

Angela says: “I saw my consultant for the first time in 6 months the other day and I don’t think he could believe the change in me. If I was putting percentages on my progress over the last year I would say 30% natural improvement and pills and 70% down to coming here. If I hadn’t found The Reader, who knows what I would be doing now?”

Thanks to our continued funding from SBT, we’ll be able to help even more people in many more places across the UK.

To find out more about how SBT are helping social enterprises around the country, including The Reader, to scale up the impact they make, visit their website.

Get Into Reading grows in Liverpool

Great news for growing the Reading Revolution at our base in Liverpool The Reader Organisation has recently received two successful bids for our work in the area, which will enable us to keep connecting people through great literature and reach even more people across the city.

Bev reads with her groupThe Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital Trust have commissioned The Reader Organisation for a three year project running shared reading groups in chronic pain settings across the trust. We already a deliver a group for people living with chronic pain at Broadgreen Hospital, started as part of a research project by the Centre for Research into Reading, Information and Linguistic Systems (CRILS) investigating the effects shared reading may have upon the condition. Though the research period has come to an end (with the report expected soon), the members’ benefits have ensured that the group is continuing. The impact of the chronic pain group was highlighted at this year’s Reader Organisation National Conference:

“I used to be crying at night sometimes …but now it’s given me a lift, I feel better and I can use the time better… to read instead.” – member of chronic pain group, Broadgreen Hospital

This new commission from The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital Trust enables more shared reading groups to be set up in the area of chronic pain, as well as potentially expanding into dialysis wards and other areas of physical health.

We have also received funding from Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to continue our delivery of Get Into Reading across Liverpool until March 2014. This means that we can continue to build upon the 70+ groups currently running in a variety of settings across Liverpool, giving more people of all ages and backgrounds the chance to encounter the social, often powerful experience of shared reading:

“This group has been a lifeline for me. I escape everyday pressures for a few hours every week and I’d be lost without it.” – Peter, Get Into Reading member at Toxteth Library
Find out more about our shared reading projects in Liverpool and the North West by visiting the Where We Work section of our website.