Arts and Health

The Reader: Yvonne’s Story, Shared Reading Groups

The Reader is a national charity that uses the power of literature and reading aloud to transform lives with shared reading groups. Their Shared Reading movement is led by volunteers and partners who focus on bringing great literature to communities across the UK. Yvonne says it’s like therapy for your mind.

Yvonne moved to England from Jamaica in the 1970s, working as a nurse. During lockdown, she found herself isolated, and struggling with the loneliness of being indoors. For over a year, she only went outside a handful of times. It was during this period that Age UK Bristol connected her with one of The Reader’s Shared Reading group, who met via telephone. Like many other stories from the Shared Reading groups, Yvonne didn’t expect to gain much from the experience – but she was pleasantly surprised.

At Shared Reading, Yvonne’s group read a poem about Daffodils called Miracle on St David’s Day.

We don’t have daffodils in Jamaica but when I came to England, that was one of the colours that I really love to plant in my garden. I just love daffodils. It reminds me of when I first arrived in England and I suffered a lot of racism and looking at my daffodils helped me then. Reading about the daffodils… brings a form of tranquillity. After reading it, I can sit there reflecting on the daffodils and the story. Even though it reminds me of sadness, it brings out joy and contentment of mind. My mind becomes relaxed and more peaceful and less angry. More of a happiness.

I could look at a whole field of daffodils, driving out on a coach trip, a day trip and passing all these homes where there are huge daffodils and big gardens, and I can imagine just lying down in that field on a hot summer day… Daffodils means a lot.

Especially during lockdown, when Yvonne found her mind stuck in the same place, Shared Reading became something she very much looked forward to. Yvonne has found her Shared Reading group to be supportive, interesting and encouraging. She now thinks of it like going out for coffee and talking with a friend.

Learn more about Yvonne’s story by clicking here: Yvonne’s Story It’s Like a Therapy for your Mind

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