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The older person’s charity Contact the Elderly has linked up with Reading Friends to help tackle social isolation in the Forth Valley.

Working in partnership with the reading initiative, developed by The Reading Agency and funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, the programme will use a shared interest in reading to spark conversations and encourage new friendships among group members and volunteers.

Contact the Elderly works across the Forth Valley and the rest of Scotland to tackle loneliness and social isolation among older people through regular Sunday afternoon tea events for people aged 75 and over in need of companionship.

It’s predicted that by 2030, loneliness in the UK will reach an all-time high with seven million people experiencing it in the over-60s age-group alone. Research has shown that reading or listening to an audio book can be hugely beneficial in helping alleviate feelings of loneliness and social isolation.

Contact the Elderly hopes that as well as encouraging intergenerational friendships, it will help the older people in the group evoke memories of much-loved books, discover new books and discuss shared experiences.

Morna O’May, Head of Service, Scotland at Contact the Elderly said:

“We are delighted to be working with The Reading Agency on this fantastic initiative as we look to expand our programme offering and reach more of Scotland’s most isolated older people. Reading and sharing an understanding of a book or poem can be an incredible way for people to connect.”

Debbie Hicks, Creative Director of The Reading Agency said:

“We’re delighted to be working with Contact the Elderly on an exciting new partnership that brings together Contact the Elderly’s successful tea party model with the social benefits of reading together. We know that tea and talk go perfectly together, and this partnership will take our reading befriending model in an exciting new direction. It will also allow us to work together to tackle loneliness for some of our most vulnerable and isolated communities.”

Contact the Elderly is looking to launch groups in Forth Valley between now and spring 2020.  Anyone interested in joining or volunteering with a Reading Friends group in the area should get in touch with Contact the Elderly Development Officer Jennifer Kaney, at Jennifer.kaney@contact-the-elderly-org.uk or on 01786 235034.

For further media information please contact Alison Shaw on 07760 193375 or alison@hummingbird-comms.com

Alison Shaw
PR Consultant
Hummingbird Communications (Scotland) Ltd
T: 01224 313724
M: 07760 193375
E: alison@hummingbird-comms.com