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:

You can also read more about some of our volunteers and their experiences in their own words in our 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.

The Big Give Christmas Challenge: Double your donations to TRO

Donate Online

The Big Give Christmas Challenge continues today – any size donation you give to The Reader Organisation online through The Big Give website has the chance of being doubled by match funding from one of our supporters, The Garfield Weston Foundation. This means that £1 will turn into £2, £10 into £20 and £100 into £200…and as every £1 that is invested into Get Into Reading generates £6.47 worth of social value in return (SROI study, 2013), this could make a huge difference to the lives of hundreds of people across communities in the UK.

We’re looking to raise £20,000 to appoint a new Project Worker who will share reading with people who are in most need of the benefits great literature can bring, including looked-after-children in foster care. Our Young People’s Project Workers work each week reading one-on-one with looked-after-children, focusing on reading for pleasure. Through regular reading, young people are engaged with great literature, building their imagination as well as developing their personal confidence, self-esteem and relationships with peers through reading.

Many of the looked-after-children we read with have continued to develop their love of reading after they have left care, and have been involved with special events including an A Little, Aloud for Children party and most recently, a special project filled with reading and activities at Calderstones Mansion House.

“I forget about everything putting pressure on me and go into the book.” – looked after-child reading with TRO

“It’s not like anything I’ve ever read, it’s the best story I’ve ever readreading the stories makes me wonder how other people feel and want to help them. They make me care about people.” – looked-after child reading with TRO 

Read P’s Reader Story on our website to discover more about the real difference shared reading can make to a looked-after-child’s life.

Your donations could help us grow the reading revolution and reach even more of these young people through shared reading. Click the ‘Donate Online Now’ button on our profile on The Big Give website or click here to donate directly as close as possible to 10am today to increase our chance of match funding.