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Reading Friends Libraries Project to Combat Loneliness

Cheshire East Council’s libraries are to benefit from a government grant of £10,000, which will help combat social isolation amongst the borough’s readers.

While lockdown restrictions continue for now, and as the nation slowly eases out of those restrictions in the coming weeks, addressing social isolation is a priority for the council.

The Reading Friends project is a national scheme, which is overseen by the Department for Media, Culture and Sport and run by the Reading Agency. All the councils’ libraries are engaged with the project.

The project is simple: library staff are on hand to contact anyone requesting a weekly call to discuss their favourite authors and books, something they’ve heard on the radio or read in a newspaper.

The scheme is free to all residents and there is no need for people to be a library member. Residents simply need to call or email their local library to arrange a time when they can discuss their area of interest with a librarian.

Councillor Mick Warren, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for communities

Councillor Mick Warren, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for communities, said: “This is excellent news for residents. While we are delighted to see that there is a roadmap now to take us out of lockdown, it will be a while yet until libraries can open once again to the public.

“Initiatives like the Reading Friends project are perfect for people, who not only might be lonely, but who perhaps also love the joy of sharing their reading experiences with others. The first thing that so many of us want to do after reading something is to tell people about it. This project enables that in a very simple, straightforward way.”

Cheshire East Council’s library service has been adapting to the restrictions of the pandemic, since the first lockdown came into effect last March. The council’s popular order and collect service is also providing a valuable outlet to many residents and the Reading Friends project is another scheme, which addresses loneliness and social isolation.

Anyone signing up to the Reading Friends project before the end of March will also receive a free book and reading journal.

For more information about the Reading Friends project and other schemes that the council’s library service offers, please visit Cheshire East Libraries.