This innovative shared reading project, which helps its participants improve their health and social well-being launches in Belfast today.
The Reading Rooms is the brainchild of Derry’s Verbal Arts Centre, and after a successful run in the North West, as part of the City of Culture programme, it has been invited to Belfast. Belfast Deputy Lord Mayor Maire Hendron pointed out the links between Belfast and Derry-Londonderry, making of this project an example of how both cities work together towards a better Northern Ireland.
Trained volunteers will host free shared reading sessions in community groups, youth centres men’s and women’s groups, schools groups, Alzheimer’s groups and even prisons. The volunteers will bring specifically selected short stories and poems to the groups and read them aloud in a fun and interactive way.
The conversations that arise from the interaction gives the participants an opportunity to relate it back to their own lives and experiences.
James Kerr of the Verbal Arts Centre said, “We are delighted to be able to share the Reading Room experience with Belfast, as it has proven so popular with the community in Derry~Londonderry. The groups have a fantastic experience in the Reading Rooms and the outcomes are amazing, particularly with the Alzheimer’s groups, the prison group, as well as with the children and young people. Feedback from participants has been very positive, the groups help to increase confidence and positivity, reduce the sense of isolation and encourage participants to work together for a common purpose. We would encourage people of all ages and abilities to come along and try the sessions”.
The Reading Rooms are free to attend and sessions, there are plans for the project to roll it out in various locations, as well as other towns and cities across the north.
The Reading Rooms project is supported by Belfast City Council, Arts Council Northern Ireland, Ulster Garden Villages, Derry City Council, DCAL, Clore Duffield Foundation, and British Council