Skip to content
Learn more

Reading Friends

The soul needs books

Written by Alison Blaxland
22 October 2019

Ernest Hemmingway apparently once said, “there’s no friend as loyal as a book”. What about a friend who reads to you? We know that libraries can be places of creative and intellectual sanctuary, refuge, hope and companionship. We chatted to the British Library in their Anything But Silent podcast about Reading Friends in Swansea. Have a listen here, and meet Reading Friend Eileen at Singleton Hospital.

“When you’re in here, and you haven’t gotten a visitor or anything and everyone else has, you haven’t got anyone to talk to”

Reading Friend, Eileen

Reading Friends has been working in hospitals for a number of years. Through our work we know that there is something quite comforting about being read to. When you’re read to as a child it feels comforting and safe – like a place of sanctuary, perhaps. Our Reading Friends read anything that sparks a conversation for them. We have found that the Pictures to Share books have been enormously helpful in doing this. People really love to read them.

Although wards can appear quite busy, people get isolated

As part of the podcast, the British Library also chatted to our Reading Friends Co-ordinator. Prue runs Reading Friends at the hospital and is also the Arts in Health Co-ordinator for the Swansea Health Board.

“The wards can appear quite busy, but in fact people get isolated because the staff are rushing around, you don’t have visitors very often perhaps and you cant get up and potter around like you can at home”

Prue Thimbleby

Reading Friends helps not only the people who are in the hospitals, but also the volunteers who read with them. One volunteer said of her experiences:

“As a person, I’m not particularly outgoing so I find having these books is a helpful tool for me to launch into conversation and build up a relationship”

Reading Friends volunteer

Get involved

Listen to the full British Library podcast here. You can find us at 22 minutes!

Find out more!

Join our mailing list to find out more about Reading Friends.

View our other programmes


Let's keep in touch

Hear about exciting news across The Reading Agency. Reading Friends specific news will be included in The Reading Agency Roundup.

* indicates required

Our Newsletters

Get the latest news and updates from across the organisation

Our Bulletins

Taking part in one of our programmes? Get specific updates on these activities

Marketing Permissions

Please confirm you agree to receive email marketing from The Reading Agency.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

You can unsubscribe or update your preferences from The Reading Agency at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.


Register your interest

* indicates required

I’m interested in...