In 2017, Give a Book and Genesis successfully gained Near Neighbours funding to provide a reading group for some Genesis residents.
This was to provide free books for care and support customers (at Amber Court) but also provide training for our volunteers. Our first successful reading group was set up at Amber Court, it was covered in the residents’ newsletter Spotlight:
Reading Group set up at Amber Court
Amber Court in Stratford, East London consists of 64 self-contained one and two bedroom flats that are home to residents from a wide range of ages and needs.
Danielle is always working with residents to find new activities that are of interest to them. One suggestion was the creation of a reading group for those who want to improve their reading skills and become more confident reading aloud.
The book group started in November with residents picking books they would like to read, starting with Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’. The reading group is co-hosted by one of our volunteers, Valerie, who provides support and guidance throughout the sessions.
The team at Amber Court also decorated their reading area with an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ theme.
Volunteers will receive training on how to build upon reading skills in group sessions, and every resident at the book group will be given a copy of the book, which will be provided by the ‘Give A Book’ charity. This is a collaborative project between Give a Book and Genesis which has been funded by the Church Urban Fund.
Victoria Gray, Executive Director at Give a Book says “We are delighted to be involved in this new collaboration which will help to encourage reading for pleasure in a new audience.”
James Atkins, Volunteer Manager for Genesis Housing says: ‘Reading books of any kind provides an opening to a world of imagination and creativity. Sometimes it can be uncomfortable to come forward to say you might need extra support with your reading. This is why a welcoming and encouraging reading group is so important.’
‘We are pleased to work in partnership with Amber Court and ‘Give A Book’ to recruit and support volunteers for this worthwhile service.’
Amber Court will be setting up more reading groups and activities for residents going forward and seeking more volunteers to support these.
We were fortunate to be able to engage the services of reading trainer Anne Harding for this project, who offered to speak to the volunteers about reading. In February 2018; Anne conducted a training session with Danielle and the volunteers.
“It was a real pleasure to give training to the very impressive volunteers and worker at Amber Court’s reading group. They are so committed to making the group special and useful for residents. I was delighted by their interest in shared reading. There were great discussions about the short story we shared, and very good ideas on ways to embed the approach, to add enjoyment to group activities. The new books provided by Give a Book will be a fabulous resource for the group. They are very accessible and attractive, and I’m sure will change attitudes to reading.”Anne Harding
Danielle Doherty passed on her comments from the session:
“Amber Court, as part of Genesis Housing Association, were able to receive some fantastic books that we could share with our residents who have different levels of reading abilities and wanted to improve on this skill. We started a book club that involved our residents participating in some 1:1 reading with our volunteers, and after the excellent training that was provided to us, we were shown a new and more successful way of running the group by allowing people to take is in turns to read out loud and pausing throughout the story to ask questions to the group. It has been a great success and has started to show a noticeable difference in our residents’ confidence.”
“Our book club sessions have been fantastic since the training. It provided a new aspect to how the group could be run and has been more enjoyable by our customers, where they have been able to get more involved and share the opinions and ideas on the story as it progresses.”
As well as the titles chosen for the Reading Group, we have sent Quick Reads and mixed fiction, also gardening and recipe books by Monty Don and Jamie Oliver so that residents could link their reading to some of their other projects.