Reading Friends to connect people and combat loneliness

Read,Talk, Share
Whether you’re an avid reader or just discovering a love of books, with Reading Friends you can enjoy a regular chat.

Rotherham Libraries is now part of the Reading Friends initiative – combatting social isolation by connecting people to have a weekly chat about anything to do with books and reading.

Thanks to a £10,000 grant from the Reading Agency, Rotherham Council has been able to put in place the additional staffing and resources needed to introduce the scheme while COVID restrictions remain in place.

The grant is part of the Reading Agency’s Read, Talk, Share initiative, which is using the proven power of reading to tackle loneliness and support mental health during the country’s COVID recovery.

Rotherham Council’s Head of Operations and Business Transformation Zoe Oxley said: “We’re delighted to be part of this fantastic initiative to tackle social isolation - which is affecting more people than ever right now. Whether you’re an avid reader or just discovering a love of books, with Reading Friends you can now enjoy a regular chat.

“It’s a great addition to the order and collect services we’ve been able to offer throughout the COVID restrictions - thanks to the hard work of libraries’ staff and an extra £50k investment in book stock this year.” 

Adults of any age can join Reading Friends for free. They will be paired up with a member of library staff, who has similar interests, for a weekly chat by phone or video call. 

While the scheme is operating remotely on a one-to-once basis at the moment, Rotherham Libraries hope to continue the service with group sessions as COVID restrictions are lifted. 

Zoe added: “While the libraries have been closed we’ve been busy with a £1.4million programme of refurbishment, so we can’t wait to welcome people back in and continue to make the most of books’ ability to start conversations and connect people who are isolated.”

To find out more or join Reading Friends email [email protected] or call 01709 823886.

Published: 6th April 2021