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.
“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.
In October last year, The Reader Organisation received over £236,000 from Big Lottery Wales to take shared reading into the fourth corner of the UK. Our specially recruited North Wales team have been hard at work preparing and now we’re excited to say that the Reading Revolution is coming to life in North Wales.
Over the next three years, we’re developing a shared reading project across the region, establishing over 30 groups in a variety of settings throughout the community for people of all ages and in both English and Welsh. The Make Friends with a Book project begins in September with the first shared reading groups running weekly in libraries in Holywell, Llanberis, Llanrwst and Penrhyn. In the coming months there will be more groups set up across North Wales, so if you’re in the area keep your eyes peeled…
However, if you’re aged 11-13 and live in Bangor you don’t have to wait to start sharing reading as there’s a group running just for you each Monday afternoon, 4.45-6pm in Bangor Library. Round off your summer with some great stories – and once school is in again, the group keeps going so there’s no need to miss out.
The new Make Friends with a Book groups in North Wales are as follows:
Holywell Library, Flintshire – Mondays, 12-1.15pm from 2nd September 2013
Llanberis Library, Llanberis – Mondays, 3-4.30pm (after school group for children aged 7-11) from 16th September 2013 (NB: This group will be through the medium of Welsh)
Llanrwst Library, Gwynedd – Mondays, 3.30-5pm from 16th September 2013
Penrhyn Bay Library, Penrhyn Bay – Thursdays, 10-11.30am from 19th September 2013
Rhyl Library, Rhyl – Thursdays, 1.30-3pm from 17th October 2013
Bangor Library – Mondays, 4.45-6pm (for children aged 11-13)