Reading groups aim to tackle social isolation

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Contact the Elderly has partnered with The Reading Agency to bring a new initiative to Scotland.

27th August 2019 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

Two charities have teamed up for a project to help tackle social isolation in Scotland.

Contact the Elderly and The Reading Agency will work together to bring the Reading Friends programme to Scotland, with help from National Lottery funding.

The programme, which has been running in England since 2017, will use a shared interest in reading to spark conversations and encourage new friendships among group members and volunteers.

Loneliness in the UK is predicted to reach an all-time high in 2030, with seven million people experiencing it in the over-60s age-group alone.

Research has shown that reading or listening to an audio book can be hugely beneficial in helping alleviate feelings of loneliness and social isolation.

Contact the Elderly hopes that as well as encouraging intergenerational friendships, the programme will help older people remember much-loved books, discover new ones and discuss shared experiences.

Morna O’May, the charity’s head of service for Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be working with The Reading Agency on this fantastic initiative as we look to expand our programme offering and reach more of Scotland’s most isolated older people. Reading and sharing an understanding of a book or poem can be an incredible way for people to connect.”   

Debbie Hicks, creative director of The Reading Agency, added: “We’re delighted to be working with Contact the Elderly on an exciting new partnership that brings together Contact the Elderly’s successful tea party model with the social benefits of reading together.

“We know that tea and talk go perfectly together, and this partnership will take our reading befriending model in an exciting new direction. It will also allow us to work together to tackle loneliness for some of our most vulnerable and isolated communities.”

Contact the Elderly is looking to launch groups in Glasgow, Forth Valley and Moray between now and spring 2020. Anyone interested in joining or volunteering with a Reading Friends group in Scotland should get in touch with Contact the Elderly development officer Jennifer Kaney at or on 01786 235034.