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Charity bringing literature to life will tackle isolation amongst the elderly

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A charity that brings people together through group reading has been given £88,000 to set up 15 new reading groups in Croydon, with the end goal of expanding into a London-wide network.

The City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, City Bridge Trust, has given £87,996 to The Reader to set up reading groups for over 75s in a three year project in Croydon.

The Reader believes that older people in London are more likely to live alone, in poverty and lack family support networks compared to elsewhere in the UK. The focus of this project will therefore be the prevention of isolation and building of positive social networks for over-75’s.

With the funding, the project aims to establish 15 reading groups reaching 243 members, run 965 sessions, train 24 volunteers and 2 local organisers, helping over 5000 residents.

The programme will offer 1:1 sessions as well as group activities, which include reading aloud and listening to poems and stories.

Alison Gowman, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, said:

“In 2015 the charity reached over 12,000 people proving it is already changing lives, but there is scope to do even more and target some of the most vulnerable members of society.

“This programme in Croydon will allow for meaningful, face-to-face socialising with other residents in the community, reducing loneliness, improving wellbeing and enhancing quality of life.

“City Bridge Trust is committed to tackling disadvantage across the capital and making London a fairer and better place to live.”

Jane Davis, Founder and Director of The Reader, added:

“This exciting new partnership with City Bridge Trust will bring volunteer-led Shared Reading groups to the over-75 community in Croydon. Social isolation and poor mental health are such big concerns across the UK, particularly among those who are older, and this project will make a real difference.

“At The Reader, we’re building a network of volunteers to help us get Shared Reading into the lives of those who need it most, in every corner of the UK.”

City Bridge Trust is London’s biggest independent grant giver, making grants of £20 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital. The Trust has awarded around 7,500 grants totalling over £360 million since it first began in 1995. It helps achieve the Corporation’s aim of changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners.