The Big Give Christmas Challenge Round Up!

Seven days. Three match-funders. 292 donors. £45,881 pounds raised to train and support volunteers to bring weekly Shared Reading groups to isolated older people across the UK.

Phew – What a week! At midday on Tuesday we wrapped up The Big Give Christmas Challenge after a huge seven-day campaign to raise funds for our work with socially isolated older people.

We were blown away by the generosity of our supporters right across the country, from Cornwall up to Aberdeenshire, and from Norfolk all the way across to Tyrone, 292 individuals gave a total of £21,369 in just seven days.

And thanks to the support of CHK Charities Ltd, Booker Prize winning translator Deborah Smith and an anonymous match-funder we had an incredible opportunity to double the impact of individual donations made during the week-long campaign, which when combined with gift aid raised a total of £45,881 to train and support volunteer Reader Leaders who will read with older people in care homes and community settings across the UK.

To everyone who donated, baked, knitted, raised money through book sales, tweeted, talked to radio DJs, friends, family, neighbours and strangers to spread the news – we’d like to say a huge Reader thank you!

We launched the Christmas Challenge on Tuesday 28 November with our wonderful Knit and Natter group at our headquarters in Calderstones Park, with an incredible donation of £1106 raised through the sale of their homemade wares at The Reader Gallery. We also welcomed Rhod Davies from the Charity Aid Foundation to a Shared Reading group to celebrate Giving Tuesday.

We were thrilled by the wonderful feature on Deborah Smith’s support for the campaign on The Bookseller, who said:

“Ever since I won the prize I’ve been agonising over what to do with the money, and when I heard about the work The Reader does I thought ‘I want that to happen in Doncaster’.

Literature has opened so many doors for me and growing up I felt like my real education came from reading books from my local library, so it’s really important to me to be able to give something back.

Reading has so many amazing benefits for mental and physical health, which is why the idea that you have to have money or a particular education to access it is so damaging and dangerous. Books should be for everybody – my life would have been completely different without them.”

Read the article in full.

Across the week our friends at Cheshire Farm’s Ice Cream Farm raised money to donate to The Big Give Christmas Challenge and at Reader HQ we held a week of exciting events, with the Giving Tuesday Book Giveaway, after-dark heritage tours with The Calder Stones by Candlelight, a Literary Bake Off and festive fun at The Reader’s Christmas Courtyard Fair.

Celebrating Heritage Open Days at The Reader’s Courtyard Fair!

Heritage tours, Shared Reading sessions, poetry readings, market stalls, book giveaways, Storybarn sessions, bouncy castle, facepainting and all the seasons in one day at The Reader’s Courtyard Fair!

Continue reading “Celebrating Heritage Open Days at The Reader’s Courtyard Fair!”

The Reader Organisation’s Review of 2014: Part 2

Yesterday we brought you the first part of our highlights from 2014 – from feeling Better with a Book to Shakespeare to a visit from a Royal guest…

Here’s the second part of what happened at The Reader Organisation this year:

Book Close UpResearch

Our research partners CRILS at the University of Liverpool are seeking to set the world agenda in reading, health and wellbeing and the role of literature in modelling creative thinking about human existence. Contributing to a growing evidence base, three new reports were published this year by CRILS with partners including the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen NHS Hospital Trust which demonstrate the impacts of shared reading to participants in groups in a range of settings.

Specific studies examining a literature-based intervention for people living with chronic pain and development of research into how shared reading improves quality of life for people living with dementia brought forth a number of positive findings, and the intrinsic cultural value of The Reader Organisation’s weekly shared reading groups in providing a meaningful experience for different sectors of communities was also brought into the spotlight. All three reports can be read in detail on our website.


This year we created many more shared reading practitioners around the UK and internationally with our revolutionary Read to Lead course. We’ve worked with a range of organisations in places including Calderstones Mansion House, Sheffield, Leicester, Derry, Durham, Devon, and Flanders in Belgium – equipping hundreds of people with the skills to share reading in their workplaces and communities.

Our Ongoing Learning programme brought more Masterclasses touring around the country, and there was a brilliant programme of Short Courses for Serious Readers throughout the year discovering a wealth of great literature from varying topics and eras including The Divine Comedy by Dante, a Whizz-tour through the World of Children’s Literature and learning to Feel the Fear and Read it Anyway with selections of challenging literature.


Klasse_Jane_Davis-0053-bewerkt 72 dpiWe were delighted to have our impact recognised on a local and national scale by being shortlisted for the Culture Champion award in the Powerful Together Awards for Social Enterprises across Merseyside and the Resilence category at the RBS SE100 Awards – both amazing achievements.

Our Founder and Director Jane Davis was nominated for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year in the Northern heats and shortlisted for Social Enterprise UK’s Women’s Champion Award.

Other highlights

There were plenty of other wonderful things we took part in this year, including a global celebration of reading aloud on World Read Aloud Day, bringing shared reading to the bill at Latitude Festival, combining poetry with the great outdoors on World Mental Health Day and delivering taster sessions at the Literary Kitchen Festival in South London.

This year also saw the expansion of our work into other areas of communal life, namely the opening of The Reader Cafe and The Reader Gallery at Calderstones Mansion House, which have been bustling with people enjoying local exhibitions and a scrumptious selection of food and drink alongside a poem.

G31A7233In September, we signed a lease with Liverpool City Council for Calderstones Mansion House giving us residency for 125 years, allowing us to begin the next stages of development for the International Centre for Reading – and we also relocated our Head Office to the beautiful surroundings of Calderstones too.

Shared reading

Great literature remains at the heart of what we do and this year we expanded the core of our work, bringing shared reading and its benefits to even more people across the country. We began new projects for people with dementia/memory loss and their carers in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, enabled more volunteers to join us to share reading in London, North Wales, South West and Leicestershire, began a pioneering project with service users, staff and volunteers at Phoenix Futures and employed our first Reader-in-Residence in Sheffield.

Without doubt the best of our highlights come from our Readers who shared their remarkable stories with us, including Shad, D and A.

“Like a person who is discovering his senses I am becoming aware of the wonders of existence that I once took for granted,  but that was cruelly snatched from me by adverse circumstances… I am once again discovering the joy of settling down to a good read.”

Our thanks go out to everyone who has supported us throughout the year – our work could not continue without the valued input of so many people. We hope to keep reading with you for years to come!

You can read more about our work in our Annual Report 2013/14, available on our website.

We’ll be back in the New Year, and until then wish you all a very happy and peaceful festive season.


What’s On at Calderstones this Spring

DSC_0871Our very first Calderstones Events brochure has been published, ensuring you can keep up to date with everything that’s going on at the Mansion House between April-June at your fingertips.

As we continue to transform Calderstones Mansion House into a reading space for the local community and a national model of wellbeing, there’s a packed programme of events for visitors of all ages and interests, enjoying shared reading alongside many other great activities in the heart of the park.

From discovering the history and heritage of the park to creative Crafternoons, short literature courses to Shakespeare’s Globe’s stunning touring production of Much Ado About Nothing, and the return of our regular Half-Term Hijinks for the May half-term, Calderstones offers something for the whole community to enjoy in the Spring sunshine.

Brochures are making their way around the Allerton area of Liverpool now, and you can also view and download the guide on our website, where you’ll find out more about what’s happening at Calderstones, including information about the newly-opened Reader Cafe and Reader Gallery.

Upcoming highlights:

The Return of Art from the Square,
Monday 21st April – Sunday 4th May, 10am-5pm, The Reader Gallery

An eclectic collection of paintings, drawings, textiles and own prints with the occasional of 3D work. The group operates as a co-operative of mainly professionally trained artists active both locally and nationally.

Ken Sloan’s Calderstones Time Walk
Saturday 26th April, 1-3pm
Cost: £5

Local environmental historian Ken Sloan takes us on an interactive Time Walk around Calderstones Park, entering the vestibule of the historic Calder Stones and connecting with Liverpool’s oldest heritage monuments.
Book online

Crafternoon: Cross Stitch Roses
Friday 9th May, 2-4pm
Cost: £8

Join Roisin for this Spring inspired Crafternoon. Have a go at cross stitching a beautiful vintage style Rose, perfect for being framed and hung. Materials and refreshments provided.
Book online

The Reader Cafe and Gallery opening

The Reader Cafe and Gallery opening
Thursday 3rd Aprilunforgottencoatflyeraltlogo2 (2)
Calderstones Park, Liverpool, L18 3JB

We are delighted to announce that the Lord Mayor of Liverpool will be officially opening the brand new Reader Cafe and Reader Gallery in Calderstones Park on Thursday at a special launch event.

After the Lord Mayor has cut the ribbon at 6pm, visitors will be welcomed into the gallery to hear from our Director, Jane Davis, and photographer Carl Hunter, whose exhibition will be on display. Barefoot Wine are providing free refreshments and, after exploring the gallery, visitors are invited to head over to the cafe to sample the delicious menu and enjoy a shared reading taster session at 7pm. All welcome!

The Reader Gallery

The Reader Gallery is in the Coach House building, and the opening exhibition is one very close to The Reader Organisation’s heart; The Unforgotten Coat. Carl Hunter and Claire Heney worked with author Frank Cottrell Boyce to create the stunning and atmospheric photography in the award-winning book, transforming Liverpool into a version of Mongolia through the medium of polaroids.

This exhibition, originally from Edge Hill University will be on display in the gallery from 3rd -19th April, 11am-5pm (closed Mondays and Bank Holidays).

The Reader Cafe

We’ve been deligblackboards onlinehted with the reaction to The Reader Cafe, which opened for the first time last week with our friendly team behind the counter.  Pop in to enjoy a tasty lunch, hot drink or slice of cake with a lots of books and good company, every day 8.30am-4.30pm.

stunning and atmospheric photography from Frank Cottrell Boyce’s award-winning The Unforgotten Coat, transforming Liverpool into a version of Mongolia through the medium of Polaroids. – See more at:

stunning and atmospheric photography from Frank Cottrell Boyce’s award-winning The Unforgotten Coat, transforming Liverpool into a version of Mongolia through the medium of Polaroids. – See more at:
stunning and atmospheric photography from Frank Cottrell Boyce’s award-winning The Unforgotten Coat, transforming Liverpool into a version of Mongolia through the medium of Polaroids. – See more at: