The Derby Book Festival Shared Reading project was launched in 2017 to bring members of the community together to share poems, short stories, and words. Shared Reading increases well-being by helping people to connect.
Shared Reading sessions provide a safe space for participants to increase their confidence, whether through speaking aloud, sharing their thoughts, or meeting new people. It also gives their mood a boost, which is important during the winter months or times of isolation. Improved mental health is a key feature of the project.
Sessions take place throughout the week, with both online (via Zoom) and in person options available. We have partnered with Derbyshire Libraries to expand the project and connect with library users across Derby. Most recently, groups have been launched at Mickleover and Normanton libraries with more planned for the future.
Aside from libraries, Shared Reading works with care homes around Derby to improve the quality of life for residents who may be isolated or unable to see their relatives regularly. It also provides an engaging activity that empowers the attendee to share their thoughts and experiences (if they want to).
There is also a group for carers, which offers friendly conversation and brief respite. A new group will start at HMP Foston Hall in Spring 2022 (covid dependent) and there may be the possibility of working with other prisons in the future.
In addition, Shared Reading brings poetry to the community by seasonally updating its PopUpPoems and through its Community Postcard Project. The former are accessible poems placed in parks across Derby. As for the poetry postcards, to date over 2,500 have been sent to people in care settings and the community plus 700 to patients at the Royal Derby Hospital.
Sessions are run by our dedicated volunteers who work to create a warm and friendly community atmosphere. Participants can choose the Shared Reading experience they want. They can join in-person or online. There is no pressure to read aloud to share their thoughts.
If you’d like to get involved, either as a volunteer or participant, please email us to find out about our current groups and opportunities. Similarly, if you are an organisation interested in partnering to create new groups, please email us. We would love to hear from you!
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