Book club to beat isolation

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.

Julia Gregson launches

 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.”

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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.

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Grab a Grant Update

The Big Lottery have been in touch with good news that the application for funding for The Reading Company has been shortlisted in the ‘Grab a Grant’ competition’. This means The Reading Company will be competing with nine other projects for one of five £5k grants.

The ten shortlisted projects will be showcased in the South Wales Argus between 12th and 16th March and readers will be invited to vote for the projects that they think should win. Five lucky winners will get £5k each, so a 50/50 chance.

The following Press Release is being circulated today:

The Reading Company

The South Wales Argus has teamed up with the Big Lottery Fund to give up to £25,000 worth of grants to community groups in South East Wales. 

Care and Repair Monmouthshire have been short listed for their project, The Reading Company, which will help to combat loneliness and isolation through new telephone book clubs.

Care and Repair Monmouthshire now need your votes! 

Ten projects will be featured in the South Wales Argus between Monday March 12th and Friday March 16th.  Readers will be able to vote for their favourite; the top 5 will be awarded grants.

Care and Repair Monmouthshire are working in partnership with the Library Service and Bridges Community Connections Befriending Project.  The reading groups will consist of housebound people, people with disabilities, older people, library users and people in rural areas and those identified as in need of a befriending service.

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.  The virtual book club (Reading Company) will bring people together to share their pleasure in reading and have the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas with others.  This will lead to increased self-esteem and confidence and an improvement in physical health and wellbeing.”

Please pick up a copy of the South Wales Argus and vote for the Reading Company.