Health and Wellbeing

Additional funding for successful library wellbeing scheme

Posted on: 21 January 2013

A pioneering scheme designed to improve people’s memory and mental wellbeing through shared reading is being rolled out across libraries in Devon.

Devon County Council has joined forces with national charity The Reader Organisation to expand the successful ‘Get Into Reading’ programme, and create ‘Reading Together in Devon’ – a county-wide network of ‘Library Memory Groups’ and ‘Feel Better with a Book’ groups.

A year long pilot of ‘Library Memory Groups’ was launched in Devon County Council’s Libraries in Tiverton and Exeter Central two years ago. It was so successful that a further £100,000  has been invested in the scheme by the council to create and run a total of five ‘Library Memory Groups’ for those with memory loss conditions and their carers, as well as seven ‘Feel Better with a Book’ groups for those wanting to lift their mood and engage with others for enjoyment and general support.

Run by specially trained facilitators from The Reader Organisation, the free weekly groups are small, supportive and friendly gatherings where people can come and share reading and make connections with literature in a relaxing environment.

The facilitator reads the text aloud, and group members are encouraged to join in as little or as much as they wish. Material includes novels, short stories, poems and plays.

The ‘Library Memory Groups’ give people with dementia and other memory loss conditions the opportunity to share the experience of listening to well loved stories and poems and share their responses with the group, encouraging recollection and interaction through reading.

Evidence shows that sharing reading stimulates memories, interest and conversation.

The ‘Feel Better with a Book’ groups improve people’s wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem by making connections with books and other. They give people a place to relax and a chance to make new friends. Reading short stories and poems together is an excellent way to get to know new people, and often prompts positive responses to life experiences.

Cllr Andrea Davis, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said:

“The power of a good book is outstanding. Sharing reading as part of a group is a really enjoyable experience, and can also help improve wellbeing, boost confidence, self-esteem and combat isolation. These groups can also help people find new ways of expressing feeling and understanding through sharing their thoughts, asking questions and discussing issues a story raises.

“For those with memory loss conditions, listening to best loved poems and short stories can often remind them of important aspects of their own lives and stimulate memories, which is excellent.

“Everyone’s general wellbeing can also benefit greatly from connecting with others or meeting new people. These groups offer this, as well as the enjoyment of sharing  a great poem or short story.

“I’m delighted that we are investing in this scheme, we must continue to do all we can to provide innovative ways to support people in living fulfilled lives for longer.”

Cllr Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, said:

“The ‘Get Into Reading’ programme has proved hugely successful in Devon, and it is excellent that we are able to invest more money to expand the groups across more of our libraries and benefit more people across the county.

“People with memory loss conditions, or those who are experiencing difficulties in their lives often withdraw from activities they enjoy as their condition becomes more noticeable, which causes a greater sense of loss.

“These groups are a great way for people to get together, whether they are readers or not, and have the opportunity to meet people who are going through similar experiences in friendly environment for participation and support.”

The groups will start the week beginning Monday 21 January 2013.

Feel Better With a Book Groups:

  • Bideford Library – Wednesdays from 10.30-12noon Phone: 01237 476075.
  • Exeter Central  Library  (Hoskins Room) – Tuesdays from 10.30-12noon Phone: 01392 384223.
  • The Hayridge, Cullompton – Fridays from 2-3.30pm Phone: 01392 388400.
  • Ilfracombe  Library (Community Room) – Tuesdays  from 2-3.30pm Phone: 01271 862388.
  • Tavistock Library – Wednesdays from 2-3.30pm  Phone: 01822 612218.
  • Tiverton Library – Fridays from 10.30-12noon Phone: 01884 244644.
  • Totnes Mansion House – Fridays from 2-3.30pm (Harberton Room) Phone: 01803 862210.

Library Memory Groups:

  • Barnstaple Library – Tuesdays from 10.30-12noon Phone 01271 388593
  • Exeter Central Library  (Hoskins Room) – Wednesdays from 10.30-12noon Phone: 01392 384223.
  • Exmouth Library – Wednesdays from 3-4.30pm Phone: 01395 272677.
  • Ivybridge Library – Wednesdays 10.30-12noon Phone: 01752 893140.
  • Passmore Edwards Centre, Newton Abbot – Tuesdays 2.00-3.30pm Phone: 01392 384012.

For more information please contact Devon County Council’s Customer Service Centre on 0845 155 1001 or log on to www.devon.gov.uk/getintoreading

About The Reader Organisation
The Reader Organisation is a national charity and social business, based in Liverpool, that exists to bring the experience of reading to life by bringing great books and people together through weekly ‘Get Into Reading’ groups, facilitator training, events and literary publications.
About ‘Get Into Reading’
‘Get into Reading’ is a pioneering model developed by The Reader Organisation where books and poems are read aloud in weekly groups. These reading groups are delivered in health, care, criminal justice, education, corporate and community settings for wellbeing, personal development and community-building. The Reader Organisation currently runs over 350 weekly shared reading groups across the UK, over 200 of them on Merseyside.

‘The Therapeutic Benefits of Reading in Relation to Depression’ was published by Liverpool Health Inequalities Research Institute in 2011. The report examines the findings of a year-long research study which investigated the therapeutic benefits of shared reading, using the Get Into Reading (shared reading) model, in relation to depression and well-being: http://thereader.org.uk/get-into-reading/research/

This short film was created by The Reader Organisation about Get Into Reading groups and their benefits.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_8tWiism1E[/youtube]

More information about The Reader Organisation is available on their website – www.thereader.org.uk/ or via Area Project Manager Sarah Hopkins on 01364 653994.

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