Arts and Health

The Reader: Helen’s Story, Shared Reading Groups

The Royal Liverpool Broadgreen University Hospital Trust commissioned The Reader in 2013 to deliver Shared Reading group sessions for patients with chronic pain. This group is now led by volunteer Reader Leader Helen, who found Shared Reading to be a real lifeline having lived with chronic pain for over 20 years.

Helen was in her twenties and working as a supply teacher when her back pain became unbearable. After a while, Helen was diagnosed with a tumour in her pelvic bone.

“That diagnosis took away everything – I couldn’t teach anymore because I was on so many medications that I didn’t feel I could be the teacher that I wanted to be, the teacher that the children deserved.”

Helen found herself in a dark place, feeling very lonely and isolated. Through a chronic pain clinic, she heard about Shared Reading. Helen found the thought of going along to a group with other people in similar situations very appealing, especially knowing that reading helped with her pain; it didn’t go away, but she could disappear into a book with ease. Through being in the group, Helen started to feel like herself again.

“Funnily enough as a group we don’t really talk about the pain we go through… It is a shared bond and after years of being together, we are a family. If I’m having a rough day, they are there for me. We also share things in the group that we probably wouldn’t share with our nearest and dearest. It’s through the literature that we talk about how it relates to our life and I find it easier to open up that way.”

Since reading with others, and through becoming a Reader Leader, Helen has started to see a way ahead. Learn more about Helen’s story by clicking here: Helen’s Reader Story “I owe my life to that group and shared reading”

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