Virtual Reading Friends groups set up in Leicestershire for parents and carers to meet new people in their area

They will support parents, particularly first-time parents, who may feel more cut off without close family support and regular library activities

Friday, 5th March 2021, 5:14 pm
Leicestershire County Council.

Parents and carers around Leicestershire are being invited to join virtual Reading Friends groups to meet new people in their area.

Leicestershire County Council has been awarded funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and The Reading Agency to take part in their new initiative Read, Talk, Share.

That’s aimed at tackling loneliness and includes a national rollout of their Reading Friends scheme.

Reading Friends is a reading befriending programme that helps to start conversations and connect lonely and isolated people.

Virtual groups will start to appear on Facebook over the next few months.

They will support parents, particularly first-time parents, who may feel more cut off without close family support and regular library activities.

A group has already been established on Facebook for the Burbage and Hinckley area with over 75 members.

Sally, of Burbage Reading Friends group, said: “I’ve been a member of a book club for several years but for various reasons it’s recently disbanded so this was perfect timing.

“All the members had the opportunity to vote from a selection of books and a date was set for a Zoom review.

“We started off with an icebreaker which helped us all get to know each other a bit better and all had a chance to share our thoughts, have a good discussion about each of the characters and score the book out of 5.”

Cllr Richard Blunt, the county council’s cabinet member for libraries, said: “Over the last year our libraries staff have been investigating new and innovative ways to reach out to residents who may be affected by loneliness caused by lockdown - and help them to connect through reading.

“I’m very proud that we have been awarded funding to set up Reading Friends groups and a telephone befriending scheme.

“We are encouraging parents to look out for new Facebook groups around Leicestershire or contact us about volunteering yourself.”

Additional opportunities will be available for parents to join telephone befriending activities.

Leicestershire Libraries are looking for volunteers to support the telephone befriending service and to run virtual Reading Friends groups.

If you would like to know more, please contact [email protected] or call 0116 305 4574.

To find out more about Reading Friends and find groups near you, visit https://readingfriends.org.uk/