A heart-warming project will help to combat loneliness and social isolation for residents in North East Lincolnshire through the proven power of reading.
The COVID pandemic has confined many people to their homes, preventing them from enjoying activities that support mental health and wellbeing.
Lincs Inspire Libraries has been awarded a grant from the Reading Agency to bring a national scheme called Reading Friends to the area, which uses the enjoyment of reading to support and connect isolated residents.
Derek O’Connell, development manager for Lincs Inspire Libraries, said:
The impact of the pandemic has prevented us from seeing many of our regular and often vulnerable customers, both in the library and within the leisure centres.
Our services not only help to improve their physical health but importantly their mental wellbeing and being able to socialise with likeminded people has a big part to play in this.
Derek added: “People who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression, and so we are delighted that, through this grant, we will be able to reconnect with our customers and link them with others using books and writing to stimulate conversations.
“Reading and sharing stories is connected to an improvement in a person’s mental health and so we are excited to use the power of books to support those who need it the most.”
The focus of Reading Friends is on connecting people who are vulnerable, isolated and at risk of loneliness. Originally the Reading Agency identified older people, people with dementia and carers as those most at risk. However, the challenging times we are all living in has expanded this remit to include other age groups and communities, as the pandemic has made loneliness and social isolation almost universal conditions.
Working with our most vulnerable service users, the Reading Friends project is delivered over the phone and will hopefully provide a little piece of conversation and inspiration to help the days go by.
Alongside this project, residents can still borrow books from the library using the order and collect service (available online and over the phone).
Alternatively, those who are housebound can register for the Home Library Service which sees volunteers deliver books to residents’ doorsteps who are unable to get to their library. For more information call (01472) 323651 or email firstname.lastname@example.org