Loneliness is its own pandemic, especially after a year in lockdowns and isolation. Now that many of us have had to restrict our socialising for so long, it’s easy to empathise with those that are in the high risk category, and have had to stay indoors, away from friends and family for longer. Over the course of the pandemic, we have been inspired by stories of people helping others and extending kindness where they can. This sense of unity and goodwill has given hope to a lot of people around the country, and one such project is Reading Friends.
This new service, being launched by Leicester Libraries and the Reading Agency aims to help anyone feeling isolated or those that are housebound during the lockdown. The service provides a weekly phone call to individuals and utilises reading as a talking point to get the conversation going.
The phone call will be with a befriender from the city council’s libraries service, connecting readers with up to three others in group conversations. This will give readers the opportunity to talk to each other, share stories, make new friends and have fun. Each call could be up to an hour long.
The project will run until the end of March, and has been set up with the help of the national Reading Agency, with £5,600 of funding provided by the Government through the agency.
Assistant city mayor for neighbourhoods Cllr Kirk Master said: “Leicester Libraries are proud to be a part of the Reading Friends project, which aims to connect people during this isolating lockdown by starting conversations through reading.
“We hope it will give callers the chance to make new connections with like-minded people and provide a lifeline of informal social contact at a time when we know people could be struggling.”
To join the free scheme, or refer a friend or family member, you should email email@example.com or phone your local library between 10am and 4pm, Monday to Thursday.
The Reading Agency is at https://readingagency.org.uk/
By Sam Ellison