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Reading friends

Published on 04 July 2019 11:30 PM

Sue and Karen read together

Reading Friends is a UK-wide project that started in 2017 with the aim of empowering, engaging and connecting isolated older people through reading.

The national project is run by The Reading Agency and has been funded by Big Lottery and Arts Council funding. Age UK Horsham District was successful in 2017 in becoming a partner with The Reading Agency to deliver the project locally in the Horsham District.

We started this project in July 2017 with a group of 10 local older people who attend our Lavinia House social club and a group of 10 older people who attend our Storrington Club for people with dementia. The Lavinia House group meet on a weekly basis and the Storrington Club group meet twice a month. In 2019 we are setting up two further Reading Friends groups, one in Slinfold and one in Steyning to meet monthly.

'Yarn Natter Blether'

Yarn Natter Blether is a short film produced by The Reading Agency, a nationwide charity which brings reading to people of all ages and backgrounds, so everyone can read their way to a better life.

See the film (11 minutes)

Some scenes were shot at Lavinia House and at Chesworth Farm in Horsham. Can you spot them?

During the one hour sessions, our groups chat, share stories and discuss different topics, prompted by reading materials, including books, poems, newspaper articles, magazines, song lyrics, etc. Often the sessions take on a particular theme for example ‘London’, The Royal Family, or Valentine's Day/Easter, etc.

Reading Friends brings together older people in the Horsham area who may not have interacted before. One attendee, who was a very slow reader, has gained the confidence to read aloud for the first time and now asks to read at every session. Another group member has a severe speech impediment and was a non-reader. To start with they attended for the social aspect and would listen to others; they are now learning to read.

The Reading Friends groups are already showing a positive impact on well-being and sessions have become a significant part of many attendees’ lives. Here you can read Susie’s story

If you are interested in finding out more about Reading Friends and how to join, call us on 01403 260560 or email us

Karen serves tea to Reading friends