The Reader Organisation

North West
Health and Wellbeing

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The Reader Organisation is an award-winning social enterprise, based in Liverpool and operating nationally, which uses Shared Reading groups to improve well-being, reduce social isolation and build resilience in a diverse range of communities.

In 2014 CAF Venturesome provided The Reader Organisation with a £100,000 unsecured loan to enable them to expand their management and delivery team to develop their capacity and operate at a larger scale.  The loan was fully repaid in 2017.

Reading groups - a different kind of medicine

The Reader Organisation is building a movement of volunteers to bring Shared Reading groups to communities to reduce isolation, to support people living with dementia and chronic pain, individuals in high-security psychiatric settings, prison inmates, mental-health patients and children in care.

By bringing people together in small groups to read aloud a book, a short story or poem, the groups create a safe and welcoming atmosphere where the thoughts and feelings of each individual is recognised and respected. They also get to enjoy a great story.

In 2013 The Reader began the restoration project of Calderstones Mansion House in Liverpool to develop its headquarters and The International Centre for Shared reading. The Reader already operates the social enterprise Story Barn and Ice Cream Parlour on the site but the Reader Mansion House, to be opened in the spring 2019, will include new reading rooms, heritage activities, spaces for a variety of workshops, exhibitions and community groups, a shop and a cafe. The refurbished Garden Theatre will be a licensed space for a programme of theatre performances and community events.

They recently published social impact statistics of attending a Shared Reading group as follows:

  • 91% of school staff recorded improvement in children's confidence with books.
  • 90% of the people attending a Shared Reading group said that it was an important event in their week, connecting them to their community.
  • 77% of people attending a group in the criminal justice setting said that Shared Reading helped them think about changing their future.
  • 71% of parents say that reading together has improved their relationship with their child.
  • 25% of people report that they are using their GP less.

The social investment from CAF Venturesome enabled the Reader to invest in its staff team at a time when it had ambitious plans to scale up the delivery of its activities, securing it a firm foundation in the heritage of Liverpool and allowing it to expand its Shared Reading groups nationally. Five years later, it has done just that, and has fully repaid the social investment.
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