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Spring into Volunteering with Shared Reading!

By - 03 June 2024 - 14:32pm

Would you like to make a difference and become a Shared Reading volunteer?

Derby Book Festival’s Shared Reading Programme has announced it is recruiting new volunteers. Individuals who are interested in applying will have the opportunity to support existing groups or run their own Shared Reading sessions.

If you enjoy reading, like meeting new people and sharing conversations, and would like to take part in uplifting and interesting sessions in the community, then Shared Reading could be a perfect fit for you.

The ‘Spring into Volunteering!’ recruitment drive comes at a time when the Shared Reading community programme is expanding and offering new sessions at public venues across Derby which are easily accessible by public transport, such as cafés and libraries, as well as closed groups in several care homes and HMP Foston.

Shared Reading sessions bring people together, online via Zoom or in-person, to read aloud a variety of material from poems, short stories and diary entries to inspiring speeches, letters and song lyrics, which is tailored to the interests of the volunteers and participants at each individual group. Shared Reading participants have the freedom to experience the session however they like - there is no pressure to read aloud, and some prefer to sit and listen.

Taking part in Shared Reading is widely recognised as a way to increase well-being through fostering a sense of connection. Michael Mosley, GP and BBC presenter, said on his ‘Just One Thing’ podcast on 9th May, “Reading rhythmic poetry aloud can slow your breathing and activate your relaxation response.” Social prescribers are increasingly recommending Shared Reading as a way to reduce feelings of isolation and improve mental health.

Shared Reading is supported by the National Lottery Community Fund and has gone from strength to strength since it began in 2017. In 2020, it was recognised for its commitment to the community during the pandemic and awarded a Beacon of Hope Award from Derbyshire Lord-Lieutenant and former Chair of Derby Book Festival, Elizabeth Fothergill.

Volunteers read aloud and ensure that Shared Reading sessions are accessible, enriching, inclusive, and inspiring. They provide a safe space for people to share memories, experiences, reflections, and thoughts on what they have heard. This is often a diving off point for wider conversation, and new friendships are formed.

Shared Reading volunteers can dedicate as much or as little time as they want, and we ask for a minimum of 2 hours per fortnight. Groups are held at set times throughout the week in different locations across Derby and online. New groups are being set up to reach members of the community who may not have tried Shared Reading before.

All of our volunteers are given Shared Reading training, and have access to lots of support during their volunteering journey with us.

Our volunteers said...

"Being a Shared Reading Volunteer is life changing!"

"I feel as enthusiastic about Shared Reading as I did when I started 17 months ago."

"It has been great so far, and I have liked being a part of this program. It has helped a lot of people be more confident and feel better and included in the community."

If you are interested in applying to become a Shared Reading volunteer, or would like to find out more, please email: for more details.