Shared Reading project gets £4,500 to expand its operation in Boston-area

One of the Shared Reading group sessions in Boston.
One of the Shared Reading group sessions in Boston.

A free scheme in Boston which brings people of all ages and backgrounds together over the written word is set to expand, thanks to a grant of £4,500.

The sum is to be used to train six new Shared Reading group leaders to launch and lead Shared Reading groups in the Boston-area (and potentially beyond, if there is interest).

Shared Reading sees people come together to hear great literature being read aloud and then share in a discussion of it.

It was set up by the national charity The Reader and aims to improve well-being, reduce social isolation and build stronger communities.

The local volunteer organiser for the project is Jenni Robbs. She said she was ‘so excited’ to expand the service in the area, saying the groups not only bring people together but also bring ‘literature alive’.

Boston has two established Shared Reading groups – one in the Cotton Chapel at the Stump, which has been running for a year, and one at Boston Library, which is coming up to its fourth anniversary.

A third, however, has recently launched at HMP North Sea Camp in what is Lincolnshire’s first Shared Reading group in the criminal justice system. The Reader has worked in the criminal justice system for more than a decade and today supports Shared Reading in more than 40 sites.

Jenni said: “The first session went very well. The feedback I have had is very positive.”

If you would like to register your interest in training to become a Reader Leader or find out how to join a group, email volunteer@thereader.org.uk

One long-standing Boston group member provides the following endorsement of the scheme: “For me, Shared Reading is the time to leave problems, worries and illness for an hour or so and just be ‘me’. For people who lack friendship these groups may be of even greater importance.”

Adam Kelk, head verger for the Parish of Boston, said: “We are delighted that St Botolph’s has been able to host Shared Reading sessions. Shared Reading is a brilliant way for people to come together and share fellowship with each other. We are glad the group is going from strength to strength and we will support it however we can in the future.”

Alison Wade, from GLL, a social enterprise that runs Boston Library, said Shared Reading groups provide a ‘very important service to the community’.

“That’s not only by encouraging a love of reading of all types of literature, but also fulfilling a vital social role by offering an opportunity for local people to meet up to share their thoughts and interests,” she said.