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Reading Friends

Volunteering with Reading Friends

This page is for people wanting to volunteer with Reading Friends. Before Covid-19, everything was in-person, so our projects across the UK have been changing their approach, where possible, to telephone and virtual sessions. At the beginning of 2021 we started expanding through public library services in England.

Everyone involved is a Reading Friend, we just all have different roles. Reading Friends volunteers lead or support sessions – finding reading materials and facilitating conversations with discussion questions and ideas – where needed. Often we find once conversations start flowing, there’s not too much facilitating required!

Volunteers are recruited and supported directly by our local projects so take a look and see if there’s one near you. If not, you can register your interest for the future once we expand further.

Let’s tell you a bit more about Reading Friends, why it’s needed and how volunteers have made a difference.

Find Reading Friends near you

What is Reading Friends? 

Reading Friends connects people by starting conversations through reading, providing opportunities to meet others, share stories, make new friends, and have fun. It creates social connections and takes a person-centred approach, building on interests and hobbies to get people talking.

Watch Yarn Natter Blether and Reading Friends in Wales to see some of our participants and volunteers who met in-person before Covid and view our sharing stories section for more.

Read our Guiding Principles to find out what makes us different! We aren’t a traditional reading group and people taking part in Reading Friends don’t need to be ‘readers’ as reading is used as a conversation starter, to create connections and to help people get to know each other.

Why it’s needed? 

Our evaluations have found that Reading Friends creates meaningful connections, builds positive relationships and a sense of community1, all of which are needed at the moment. Even before the pandemic, loneliness and social isolation were big issues2, but Covid-19 has amplified this3. Take a look in more detail at some of the research from 2020.

The difference you make

Volunteers have a huge impact on the individuals they’ve spoken with and groups they’ve lead. Participants have recently said,

“I’ve got to admit, Reading Friends has kept me busy and it’s kept me occupied in the flat and it’s kept me going, shall we say. It’s given me a boost rather than feeling completely isolated and locked up on my own.”

“It certainly gave me a sense of connection with other people. I’m lucky I’m living with my husband but quite a few of people in the group are on their own.”

But volunteering also has an impact on volunteers too, with recent comments including a sense of purpose, satisfaction in helping others and a development of skills:

“Time is something I have a lot of and I like to keep busy. Satisfaction and just a feel-good that you’ve done something for your community.”

“It’s also given me something interesting to do. It’s made me think a bit, so it’s given me a sense of self-worth I suppose.”

“I learnt about managing a conversation when you can’t see the other person to know when they are going to speak or stop speaking.”

  1. Renaisi (2019) – Tackling loneliness through reading
  2. The Campaign to End Loneliness – The Facts on loneliness
  3. British Red Cross (2020) – Life after Lockdown and Lonely and left behind. What Works Wellbeing (2020) How has Covid-19 affected loneliness

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