Project information

Piloting the future of shared reading

To intensively pilot our new community/volunteer-led method to work with lonely, socially isolated, mentally ill, & vulnerable people, particularly older people and women (>60% aged 55+ & female) changing lives using our well established shared reading model.

18 months

Charity information

The Reader

The Reader logo
  • Need


    The number of vulnerable people we can support across the UK is limited by the fact that most of our groups are delivered by our staff members. This is expensive, and places limits on how far we can expand our work, and reflects that most of our work has been commissioned by the public sector in various forms. Now public sector budgets are under pressure, and we need to think of new ways for us to reach further and work with more people who can benefit from our help, more efficiently.


    The Reader will pilot a new way of working, training & supporting volunteers to deliver shared reading in their own communities, allowing us to reach many more people, sustainably. We will select one geographical area and test our new way of working, learning lessons and developing the methods that will see thousands of volunteers delivering life changing shared reading in their communities across the UK.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To recruit Membership Manager who will pilot our volunteer-led model.


    » We will recruit Membership Manager & Volunteer Coordinator, they will need to be creative, resilient and experienced.

    Success will be demonstrated by the Membership Manager remaining in post past the pilot year.

    Aim 2

    To pilot our volunteer led model in a selected area, to learn lessons for national implementation.


    » Recruit and train a cohort of 20 volunteer reader leaders
    » Build relationships with partner organisations to facilitate & support delivery.

    We will end the pilot year with lessons learned, experience gained, and will analyse what went well & what didn't and bring this learning together into a report.

  • Impact


    The legacy of the project will be a report and learning which will facilitate the spreading of shared reading with a sustainable new model across the UK. We will know we have succeeded when 3 years after the end of the project we have a national structure of shared reading delivered by Members & Volunteers supported by regional Volunteer Coordinators/Local Organisers, reporting to Membership Managers.


    The biggest risk will be in the need for an outstanding individual in the role of Membership Manager. If we recruit poorly, the project will suffer and we will not have the opportunity to learn as best we might from the pilot year. To mitigate this, we will run our usual thorough, high-quality recruitment process. We also have the organisational structures in place to support the successful candidate. Partnerships will also represent a risk, and we will ensure local partnerships are strong.


    We will deliver an interim report 6 months into the project, and a more in depth final report at the culmination of the pilot year. This report will show the learning we have taken from the project, what went well and what could have been done better, as well as recommendations going forward.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £50,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £28,000 Staff costs Employing the Membership Manager
      £22,000 Volunteer costs Training & supporting up to 25 volunteers & working with local partners
  • Background


    Our project is based in Liverpool, which is our home base and makes sense as the location for the piloting of our new model. Liverpool represents the densest concentration of social deprivation in the UK, comparable in depth to the most deprived London Boroughs, and more widespread than any other core city (based on Indicies of Multiple Deprivation). 1 in 5 of the most deprived wards in the country can be found in Liverpool, 51% of Liverpool is in the most deprived 10% of the country.


    Our groups benefit people from all walks of life, with powerful impacts for people who are socially isolated, lonely, carers, mentally ill, living with addiction, bereavement, chronic pain or long term illness. This pilot will target older people, who disproportionately experience these challenges, at least 60% will be 55+. At least 60% will also be women. We will offer volunteering, training & groups, to meet the needs of people in different situations, from early intervention to recovery.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    The Reader is the only organisation in the UK delivering shared reading - we pioneered the model and are the global experts, having exported the model to partner organisations in other countries. We currently read with more than 12,000 people across the UK, in settings from prisons and high secure hospitals, to schools and care homes, libraries and community centres. We have a strong research base to prove our impact and we are commissioned by the NHS, Ministry of Justice and others.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Jane Davis

    Jane is the Founder and CEO of The Reader, and she has provided the vision and leadership for us to transition to a volunteer led model.

    Chris Catterall

    As Director of Enterprise, Chris has guided The Reader through its rapid growth since 2008 and will continue to do so as we develop our new model.

    Ben Davis

    Head of Membership - Ben is the senior project lead for the transition to a volunteer-led model, and will manage the organisation wide change process