Reading Friends is our exciting new UK-wide befriending project, funded by The Big Lottery, to empower, engage and connect vulnerable and isolated older people, people with dementia and carers through social reading activities.
We are delighted to announce that from June 2017 to June 2018, we will be working in partnership with a range of organisations across four areas of England to test different approaches to delivering the Reading Friends programme, co-produced with older people. The test projects will adopt a range of social reading models including one-to-one befriending and reading groups to connect older people in different settings including libraries, care homes and sheltered housing.
We will evaluate the different test models and use this learning to shape the pilot phase which will follow in 2019. We have appointed Renaisi and the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) to deliver the programme evaluation.
Reading Friends will be tested in the following four areas:
Sheffield Dementia Action Alliance, a network of organisations working to raise awareness of dementia in Sheffield, will lead this test project. They will be working closely with three key partners, SOAR, Woodhouse Community Forum and ZEST Community, to engage volunteers and vulnerable older people across the city.
Newcastle Libraries and Age UK Newcastle will be leading the test phase in Newcastle together, working with a number of other partners across the city to deliver both befriending and social reading models.
Oldham Libraries will adopt a cross local authority model working closely with Springboard - Oldham Dementia Carers Group, to deliver Reading Friends in different areas across the borough.
West Sussex will be testing a cluster approach with three organisations - The Abbeyfield Society, a charity providing housing with care to older people, Dementia Support, a new charity which works to brings together the local services for dementia in West Sussex and Age UK Horsham. They will be working with West Sussex Libraries to pilot befriending approaches in the community and in sheltered housing.
Debbie Hicks, Creative Director at The Reading Agency, says:
"Choosing the test pilots was a difficult task as the quality of all the applications was very high but we're really excited about the range and breadth of the four selected test projects. We are looking forward to working with such a powerful range of partners and audiences and to building on the expertise and knowledge they will bring to the development of this exciting programme."
Scottish Book Trust will be managing the programme in Scotland and Literature Wales will be managing the programme in Wales. The test sites in Scotland and Wales will be announced shortly.
If you are interested in hearing more about the Reading Friends programme, or you would like to be added to our newsletter mailing list please contact firstname.lastname@example.org