Reading Rooms & Wellbeing

Reading Rooms is a mobile shared reading programme that gives participants a voice, reduces isolation and anxiety, and promotes well-being.

Picture for blog story Reading Rooms & Wellbeing

Using a reading aloud and shared reading setting the programme encourages participants to share personal experiences from their past, sparking memories, stimulating new thoughts and provoking conversation related to the short story and poems selected in advance and tailored to the needs of the group by the project’s Literary Guide. 

The group sessions are led by a trained facilitator who has completed an intensive three day accredited training programme on how to use the reading aloud model and engage with the groups they are working with.

The facilitator skilfully brings the group together and prompts conversation without pressure. Discussions are free flowing and this social aspect of the group allows for a friendly atmosphere and an opportunity to learn more about others.

Reading Rooms can take place anywhere in the community and works best in groups of no more than 10 people.

Reading Rooms are currently taking place across Derry~Londonderry, Strabane, Limavady, Portstewart, Whiteabbey and Belfast. They happen in St Brigid's College, Holy Cross Boys' Primary, Customised Training, the NOW Project, Extern, Black Box, the Duncairn Centre for Culture and Arts, and Foyle Disability Resource Centre.

The project’s focus on well-being comes to the fore when Reading Rooms take place for people with Dementia, in residential care homes such as Edenballymore Lodge, Our Lady’s Home, Bruce House, Enler Day Centre and Hemsworth Court.

We also work with stroke survivors and their carers, with Hospice patients and their families and with groups that focus on mental health, wellbeing and offer bereavement support such as the Beacon Centre in Derry, Lighthouse in Belfast and Northern Trust services in Carrickfergus and Whiteabbey.

We run weekly Reading Rooms in Magilligan and Hydebank Prisons, while others take place in community centres such as Rath Mor and Upper Andersonstown Community Forum. 

We have partnered up with Alzheimer's Society to deliver Reading Rooms in Dementia Cafes in Derry, Limavady and Strabane.

We have developed the project in some more unusual spaces such as galleries and disused shop; for example; in The Void Gallery we have run wonderful Reading Rooms related to the exhibitions on view; in Open Source as part of Culture Night Belfast and we have partnered with Big Telly to develop a Reading Room in a shop front in Strabane as part of their Creative Shops project.

We will shortly be working in partnership with the NOW Project to deliver al fresco Reading Rooms across Belfast this summer.

If you would like to experience a Reading Room in Derry~Londonderry, there is an open Reading Room in Foyleside Shopping Centre every Thursday evening at 7.00pm in Eason’s bookshop. There are two in Belfast: in the Duncairn Centre on Monday afternoons at 2pm and in Eason’s bookshop on Wednesdays at 11am. All are welcome to join in and there is no cost.

The project is volunteer-led and our volunteers are offered accredited training OCN NI Level 2 Facilitation Skills for Shared Reading to help them deliver a programme of high quality, along with continuing support, master classes and input into the programme throughout the year. Our training aims to give volunteers the skills and confidence to deliver shared reading to a wide variety of groups.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or would like more information on the Reading Rooms please contact:

Sinead Devine - Derry~Londonderry and the north west
Tel: 028 71 266 946 or Email:

Maeve O’Lynn - Belfast and the north east
Tel: 028 71 266 946 or Email:

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