For the past two years, The Reader has had the immense joy and privilege of working with a growing family of volunteers, local partners and national funders in the North West to test how best to build stronger and healthier communities through Shared Reading.
More than 500 reading revolutionaries have joined the campaign in that time – to lead upwards of 200 thriving Shared Reading groups, but also to support us at our Calderstones HQ, as well as shouting about and growing Shared Reading communities across 10 other local hubs.
We were delighted to be joined by 50 of them, travelling from Chester, Warrington, Knowsley, Wirral and more, to celebrate Shared Reading North West at Blackburne House last week.
Although The Reader was first being brought to life by founder Jane Davis in the North West more than a decade ago, it wasn’t until two years ago that her dream to bring Shared Reading to “put Shared Reading everywhere” began in earnest.
And this… is the core of what that looks like.
“This is the thing, this truly is the thing. We dreamt it once; now it
has come about,” she said reading from Edwin Muir’s Dream and Thing in a video sent to thank volunteers for all of their hard working, making the dream, the thing.
“That’s you, ‘each separate splendour’, doing your wonderful thing, making this wonderful thing happen…
“This means there are thousands of people in prisons, care homes and community locations experiencing Shared Reading every week – did I every really dream that? ‘We’ll put Shared Reading everywhere’, but I didn’t imagine ‘Skelmersdale, I didn’t imagine Wigan care homes.”
If you couldn’t make the event, see Jane’s huge thank you here.
AND INTRODUCING… SHARED READING KNOWSLEY!
Earlier in the month, Knowsley had its own Shared Reading North West Celebration to introduce The Reader’s first local meeting space in Liverpool.
The Shared Reading Space has been created in partnership with Knowsley Libraries, and volunteers brought along new and old readers to mark its arrival. “We had poetry readings from some of our Reader Leaders,” explained Knowsley Hub Leader Esther.
“First, Maureen read Sea Fever by John Masefield, a poem she has shared in her one-to-one readings with dementia care patients she reads to every week. Then Christine read I Carry Your Heart With Me by EE Cummings, a poem her group most enjoyed the weeks of Valentine’s Day.”
The shelf in the library represents a new focal point for building a Shared Reading Community in the area.