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Press Release: Events
The Reader Organisation's National Conference: Reading To Live Well, 17th May 2012

Posted at 12:00PM Wednesday 04 Apr 2012

Reading to Live Well

British Library, London

17th May 9am – 5pm

Reading really does make you feel better, particularly when it's shared.

The Reader Organisation's shared reading project, Get Into Reading, has been the subject of a study which investigated 'the therapeutic benefits of shared reading in relation to depression and well-being', conducted by a group of researchers at the University of Liverpool, funded by Liverpool Primary Care Trust. The study found "statistically significant improvements in the mental health of depressed participants" – particularly when groups took place in community locations.

Jane Davis, Director of The Reader Organisation says:

"We create a unique and welcoming environment in all sorts of surprising places for readers and non-readers alike, from care homes to prisons, from children's homes to recovery centres, from supermarkets to libraries. Shared reading groups help to improve personal confidence and reduce social isolation."

The report also highlighted that groups enhance emotional and psychological wellbeing, and provide vital stability and support.

Dr David Fearnley, Medical Director, Mersey Care NHS Trust (RCPsych 'Psychiatrist of the Year 2009'), says:

"Get Into Reading is one of the most significant developments to have taken place in mental health practice in the last ten years."

Dr Iona Heath, President of the Royal College of General Practitioners, is one of the speakers at their upcoming conference at the British Library in London, 'Reading to Live Well'. The conference on Thursday 17th May 2012 features a number of acclaimed health professionals, academics and writers from the UK and USA, plus The Reader Organisation's own experienced staff.

Topics to be addressed include:

•Why shared reading works:

•in community locations – libraries, GP surgeries, community centres, hostels

•in in-patient mental health locations – low, medium and high secure

•in criminal justice locations – prisons and probation centres

•for people living with dementia – in care homes and in the community

•for young people – particularly for looked-after children

•How to set up a shared reading project in your organisation/borough

•How reading literature helps medical professionals in their practice

•Academic research into the practice of shared reading groups

The conference will uniquely bring together professionals working across a variety of public, third and private sector organisations – those commissioning, delivering, researching, referring or funding services – who want to learn how the pioneering 'Get Into Reading' project can help support and engage individuals to improve wellbeing, improve the morale and motivation of staff involved, and promote the importance of great literature.

Confirmed speakers include:

•Dr Iona Heath, President of the Royal College of GPs

•Jonathan Rose, William R Kenan Professor of History, Drew University, USA, and author of The Intellectual Life of The British Working Classes

•Nick Broughton, Medical Director, West London Mental Health NHS Trust

•Professor Phil Davis, Director, Centre for Research into Reading, Information and Linguistic Systems, University of Liverpool

•Lemn Sissay, award-winning poet and the first to write for the Olympics 2012

•Fiona Johnstone, Director of Public Health, NHS Wirral

•Erwin James, writer and Guardian journalist

•Beverley Humphrey, Chief Executive, Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Trust

The Reading to Live Well conference is being held at the British Library (Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB) on Thursday 17th May 2012, 9am – 5pm. The conference costs £199 (inclusive of VAT and including lunch and refreshments). Book at or contact Helen Vaughan: 0151 207 7228.


For further information contact Lizzie Cain: / 0151 207 7228

Notes to Editor

1.The Reader Organisation is a charitable social enterprise based in West Everton, Liverpool that works to connect people with great literature. It began life at the University of Liverpool in 1997 as a small outreach unit within the School of English and now has a turnover of £1.6 million, with 60 staff working in all four corners of the UK. The Reader Organisation creates stimulating, friendly and non-pressured environments, where shared meanings are established across social, educational and cultural boundaries.

2.Get Into Reading: There are currently over 300 weekly 'Get Into Reading' groups being delivered by The Reader Organisation in a variety of places, including: hospitals, care homes, prisons, GP surgeries, libraries, prisons, supermarkets, homeless shelters, community centres, corporate board rooms, probation centres, schools and mental health day centres, with people aged from six months to 103.

3.'An investigation into the therapeutic benefits of reading in relation to depression and well-being' (Billington, J. et al, November 2010) is available at

The Centre for Research into Reading, Information and Linguistics is being led by researchers in literature from the University's School of English, but is based in the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society so that psychologists, medics and literary experts can work together to understand the real impacts that reading can have on the health and wellbeing of global communities. Visit to find out more.

4.Reading to Live Well Conference is being held at the British Library (Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB) on Thursday 17th May 2012, 9am – 5pm. The conference costs £199 (inclusive of VAT and including lunch and refreshments). Book at

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