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Through the Gate: Shared Reading to improve community rehabilitation

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The Reader is launching a landmark ‘through the gate’ Shared Reading service, in collaboration with Suffolk Libraries and the Suffolk Community Foundation. 

The Reader is launching a new kind of Shared Reading Community in Suffolk – a collaboration with Suffolk Library Services to transform rehabilitation for local people leaving prison, improving wellbeing and building community – through reading aloud together.

For more than a decade, The Reader has been bringing people together to talk, laugh and share great novels, poems and plays in local community spaces, such as care homes and hospitals, as well as prisons. Shared Reading groups are free, open to all, normally last an hour or an hour and a half, and usually run every week. Late last year, The Reader hit a major milestone with the news that it is now supporting 500 groups to happen across the UK every single week.

This year-long ‘through the gate’ pilot will see six volunteers trained to lead three new Shared Reading groups in Suffolk Libraries, with 30 local people benefiting from reading aloud together each week. For this project, the Suffolk Community Foundation has allocated funds from the Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, to help people leaving prison develop better relationships with themselves and others, improving their rehabilitation and supporting the Commissioner’s objective to reduce re-offending. 

Together, The Reader and Suffolk Library Services will launch this pilot project within three libraries in core areas of need, with plans to grow in coming years.

 About The Reader: 

The Reader has worked in the criminal justice system for over a decade, and today supports Shared Reading in more than 40 prisons and approved premises across the UK.

 “The Reader has been reading with offenders since 2009, and we know from research done into this work that it helps them feel more safe and confident in themselves, helps them relate better to other people, and helps them think more about the future,” said Jane Davis, founder and director of The Reader. “You don’t have to consider yourself ‘a reader’ to join in – many people come along to our groups just to listen.


“We know both national and local decision-makers are increasingly trying to build better collaborations to make the transition from prison to the community better – and we believe Shared Reading has a role to play in that.

 “We’d like to thank the Suffolk Community Foundation, which administers funds for the Police and Crime Commissioner, and Suffolk Libraries, for enabling us to make this transformational project happen.”

 If you would like to register your interest in training to become a Reader Leader, find out how to join a group, or would like to become involved as a partner in this community collaboration, get in touch with The Reader’s local lead for Shared Reading. Email Heidi Hollis on

Who to contact

Heidi Hollis
Project Coordinator
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