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Reading Friends

First reflections on the rollout

11 June 2021

The recent rollout of Reading Friends as part of our Read, Talk, Share campaign has contributed to combatting loneliness and promoting wellbeing through the proven power of reading this winter.  

At the end of 2020, The Reading Agency received significant funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport to expand Reading Friends activities through across England. This investment funded 102 public library authorities to set up Reading Friends groups and one-to-ones by phone, online and some socially distanced activities. Find out where Reading Friends has expanded to on our map. 

Numbers of engagements 

We’re delighted to share that between January – May 2021, Reading Friends has recorded a total of almost 70,000 individual engagements in Reading Friends activities.

We’ve been reaching a broad range of people through our library partners including older people, Home Library Service users, new and expectant parents, children and young people, refugees, visually impaired people, carers, LGBTQ+, BAME, ESOL groups, isolated farming communities, people affected by domestic abuse, mixed ability and multicultural groups. 

The difference so far 

Reading Friends coordinators, participants and reading befrienders have commented on the difference that Reading Friends activities have made to support their wellbeing and lessen their experiences of loneliness and social isolation. 

 “We are proud to have had the opportunity to make a difference at a difficult time, and to be creating a legacy that will help us continue to tackle loneliness using the power of reading.” Reading Friends Coordinator 

“I am glad that I have joined the group and would feel lost without it as in these times it is hard, and this little group has made things easier.” Reading Friends participant  

Reading Friends gave a ‘lot’ to my little community. The residents looked forward to our befriending calls and we embraced the lockdown together.” Reading Befriender 

Further impact 

We’ll be able to share more details about how the Reading Friends rollout has made a difference soon, so watch this space.

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