Reading Friends is part of the new Read, Talk, Share campaign from national charity the Reading Agency. The campaign aims to combat loneliness and promote wellbeing through the proven power of reading during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reading Friends brings people together to read, share stories, make new friends and have fun. It uses books, magazines, newspapers - or anything else - to get everyone chatting. It's a programme that connects people experiencing loneliness by starting conversations through reading.
North Somerset Council has been awarded £8,500 which is being used to train existing library volunteers as Reading Befrienders. They will then be matched with isolated library customers, starting with those mobile library customers who live in more isolated communities. Once the scheme is established the council hopes to invite referrals from other organisations - it is an ideal activity for social prescribing and the programme offers many opportunities to work with partners.
Cllr Mike Solomon, North Somerset Council's executive member whose portfolio includes libraries said: "This is a scheme which will have tangible benefits for those experiencing isolation. Well done to the Libraries team for securing this funding."
Reading Well books help you understand and manage your mental health and are endorsed by health professionals. The Read, Talk, Share campaign will provide additional copies of titles in the adult, children, and young people’s Reading Well mental health collections for North Somerset libraries, as well as extra funding to buy more e-book and e-audio copies. The collections will be promoted more once the e-book and e-audio titles are available. Find out more at www.reading-well.org.uk.
Titles in the Reading Well collections can be reserved for free via the LibrariesWest website or requested through the council's Click and Collect service, both for contact-free collection during lockdown.
For more information on library services during lockdown visit www.n-somerset.gov.uk/librarycollect.