The Reading Agency chosen for The Times Christmas Appeal 2019

The Reading Agency is a UK-wide charity using the proven power of reading to tackle life’s big challenges of social mobility, mental health and wellbeing and loneliness. Every year the organisation reaches 1.4 million people across the UK with the support of 13,817 partner organisations, ensuring that everyone is reading their way to a better life. This Christmas, The Reading Agency has been selected as one of the charities to be featured in The Times Christmas Appeal for 2019.

The Christmas Appeal will focus on the charity’s work on loneliness and reading, highlighting their inspiring Reading Friends programme. Launched in 2017 with funding from the National Lottery Community Fund, Reading Friends tackles loneliness using reading to start conversations and connect people socially. The scheme uses the power of a shared story in libraries, prisons, care homes, community centres, and recovery cafes to tackle loneliness in the UK.

Karen Napier, Chief Executive of The Reading Agency, says: ”We’re delighted to be included in this year’s Christmas Appeal in The Times. It’s a really fantastic opportunity to highlight the impact that reading can have on tackling loneliness and social isolation. As a charity, we’re committed to ensuring that everyone has the tools to read their way to a better life, and our Reading Friends programme is a testament to the impact that shared reading can have.”

A study by The Co-op and the British Red Cross found that over 9 million people across the UK are either always or often lonely, and Christmas is a time when this becomes particularly evident. Last year, The Reading Agency also commissioned think-tank Demos to conduct independent research into the impact of reading on some of society’s most pressing concerns. The report, A Society of Readers, predicted that there will be over seven million people experiencing loneliness in the over-60 age group alone, and that almost two million will have a shortened life due to loneliness.

Damian Hughes, son of Reading Friends participant Brian, says: “I have witnessed the terrible fog of isolation, fear and loneliness which can descend upon those who live with the cruel illness of dementia which considerably narrows their world. I have also witnessed the transformative ability that reading can have upon this condition; helping to open memories, and stir long-dormant emotions. Reading Friends provides this stimulus for many people, from those who are living with the condition, their carers and loved ones alike. I think the work of The Reading Agency is invaluable.”

Reading Friends now has 45 projects across the UK designed to address loneliness throughout the year. Last year, the programme reached over 1,500 participants and 200 volunteers through 21 local projects. Data from the programme has found that 94% of Reading Friends participants would recommend Reading Friends to others, and that 90% of volunteers want to carry on volunteering on a Reading Friends project. The Reading Agency is hopeful that The Times Christmas Appeal will inspire readers to help the charity continue their important work tackling life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading. 

For more media information please contact 0207 324 2553 or [email protected]

Get involved

Find out more about Reading Friends by visiting the website

Visit The Times Christmas Appeal page to make your donation

Donate via JustGiving to help support our work tackling loneliness through reading

The Reading Agency

Join our mailing list

Get our newsletters to stay up to date with programme news, resources, news and more.

Back to Top