Our impact

Reading for Wellbeing has engaged people of all ages from targeted communities across 6 local authority areas in the North East of England.

I have a husband with dementia at home and in 2021 I had breast cancer and went through a horrible, horrible year… It just changes your life really because you don’t feel alone. You know you’ve got something to look forward to every week.

Marie, Reading for Wellbeing participant

We have enabled a range of positive wellbeing outcomes:

  • Making connections between people, tackling social isolation and loneliness.

  • A sense of purpose – attending an activity gives participants routine and structure.

  • Escapism from day-to-day worries, supporting improved mental health.

  • Improved partnership working – strengthening connections with social prescribing and libraries, for example.

Here's what some of our participants have said

I hadn't left the house for nearly three years because of the pandemic, and I just totally lost confidence in going out at all. I was referred here, and the friendship and everything is brilliant - it's really doing my confidence good.

Jeff, Reading for Wellbeing participant

We talk about all kinds of things - issues from the books, and that way people sometimes open up about their own personal situations... and that's trust in the group.

It’s nice to escape… the book club itself does that for me because the people I meet there are totally unrelated to the problems I've had in the last year so I can just be myself with them.

Angela - Reading for Wellbeing Participant
Josephine - Reading for Wellbeing Participant

It gives you something else to think about... instead of going to bed thinking of all the bad things that's happened you're thinking of the book and it just makes it so much easier to switch off from real life.

I spent a lot of time sat a home just with my children as I was frightened to go out after COVID. I feel I’ve got more confidence to go and see what’s out in the community and find activities. I feel that I’m part of a community , there’s a space where my children can enjoy themselves. I’m also sleeping better as I read before I go to bed which makes me feel more settled before going to bed.

Ian's story

Someone threw me a lifeline and I am so pleased that I took it

Ian Kirby, participant from Gateshead, shared his story at the celebration event in February 2023. We are so grateful to Ian for his personal reflection. 

Reading for Wellbeing Learning report 2023

Our Learning Report gives more detail about the positive impact of our pilot phase.

Reading for Wellbeing Project Evaluation

Reading for Wellbeing has being independently evaluated by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) North East and North Cumbria. Between Nov 2021 – Nov 2022 a realist evaluation of the project was undertaken led by a study team from the University of Northumbria and Newcastle University.


  • The research highlighted the importance of stories in providing a unique opportunity to explore and discuss a wide range of topics and reflect on personal experiences.
  • Participation in the project offered a sense of respite to participants who were experiencing emotional hardship linked to life changing events such as bereavement, retirement or caring responsibilities.
  • Embracing reading for pleasure within group settings enabled participants to build connections and enhance personal capacities that could improve their wellbeing.
  • The skill of the community reading workers was key. Community reading workers facilitate opportunities to enhance reading enjoyment.
  • Location of the RfW groups matters. Participants’ perceptions about accessibility of the project are also affected by its location.

Shared Reading Impact on Isolated People

The Knowledge & Library Services Department of the UK Health Security Agency collated literature and research into ‘What impact do shared reading services have on the health and wellbeing of groups to social isolation’ (Feb 2023)