The new virtual book club aimed at beating isolation amongst older people was officially launched at Chepstow Library on Monday 17th December.
Local authors Owen Sheers and Julia Gregson lent their support to The Reading Company, run by Care & Repair Monmouthshire and Monmouthshire Libraries.
The Big Lottery Fund-backed project targets older and vulnerable people in the rural county using telephone conferencing to form a discussion group about a chosen book. Four groups of around eight people will get together for an hour via a free phone call to discuss a book with sessions supported by volunteers.
Five of Monmouthshire Libraries staff have been trained to set up the telephone book clubs – Brett Smith, Susan Seeraj, Tash Harron-Edwards, Glenn Evans and Julie Warburton.
Shona Martin, agency manager for Care and Repair Monmouthshire, said: “Many people are affected by social isolation and loneliness. Age, disability, illness or caring responsibilities can create feelings of isolation and loneliness and whatever the cause, the person affected may be left feeling alone and disconnected from their communities, which can lead to depression and a serious decline in physical health and wellbeing. This project will help to boost self-esteem and confidence and consequently an improvement in physical health and wellbeing.”
Owen Sheers, author of Resistance, grew up in Abergavenny and was pleased to support the project. He said: “The Reading Company is an idea that immediately makes sense. It has the potential to make a really significant difference to people’s lives, it’s just asking to be spread across the entire country.”
Julia Gregson wrote bestseller East of the Sun and gave the project her seal of approval by officially launching it with the opening of a large pop-up book revealing The Reading Company logo.
She said: “Reading is therapeutic; it gives people a common ground, makes sparking up a conversation easier. Plus the escapism of a great story in itself gives people genuine respite from their day-to-day worries.”
Here’s what Owen Sheers had to say about The Reading Company.