How one charity is bringing the nation together through reading

Two people discussing a book

A Reading Friends meeting in Oldham before Covid-19 and social distancing measures were put in place. - Credit: The Reading Agency

The Reading Agency’s new campaign Read, Talk, Share is aiming to bring the nation together through the power of reading.

Since the onset of Covid-19 being part of a community and looking after your mental well-being feels more necessary than ever. 

This new initiative is expanding the charity's already established Reading Well and Reading Friends projects that have helped thousands combat loneliness and access crucial mental health resources for free.   

Reading Well aims to provide every library service in the country with access to books on a range of mental health topics including anxiety, body dysmorphia, coping with grief and many more. 

Library users will have access to these medical professional-approved books either through a click-and-collect service or via e-lending later this month. 

Reading Friends is a nationwide project available at 75 library authorities in England that allows vulnerable, at risk and isolated people to come together and discuss books while having fun and making new friends within their community.  

Usually, the groups would meet in person, but since social distancing measures were put in place Reading Friends has been piloting telephone and video meetings.  

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Read, Talk, Share has been made possible through a £3.5 million award by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. This funding means many more people around the country will have access to the Reading Well and Reading Friends projects. 

Karen Napier, CEO of The Reading Agency, said: “We are immensely proud of our Reading Well and Reading Friends programmes and look forward to expanding their reach and impact with thanks to this funding and by working in partnership with public libraries to aid the country's recovery in 2021.” 

Find out more about the campaign, including how to access Reading Well and Reading Friends at www.readingagency.org.uk/news/ 

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