Reading friends

One female and one male sitting around a table

Story by Sam Humphrey

On Tuesday 8th August the first ‘Reading Friends’ event was held at Burngreave Library. Sheffield is one of only four cities trialling the befriending initiative.

The project aims to use reading to start conversations and generate reminiscence amongst people feeling isolated by poor health and old age. Isolation affects quality of life and reading is of course one of the greatest pleasures for many.

At Burngreave Library we have a collection of photographs of the Burngreave area and used these as a conversation starter for the first group. It was a good choice though our only visitor this time was Bernadette Lamb.One female and one male sitting around a table

We simply sat back gratefully to listen and enjoy the ample tea and cake provided as Bernadette, who had in fact worked at both previous libraries as a librarian showed us some of her own photographs and told us fascinating stories of the Library Service and Pitsmoor.

Library coordinator Marcia Layne said, “Bernadette brought archive pictures to life with her brilliant local knowledge and compelling storytelling.”

We learned that the first library transfers of books from Ellesmere Road to Spital Hill was primarily carried out by Bernadette herself using a council wheelbarrow which they had very kindly provided for that purpose. Bernadette’s lively spirit left us in no doubt she could actually probably make a fair job of moving an entire library by hand even today.

The volunteers will be running the event again soon and volunteers are also planning visits to care homes in future. If you are interested or know someone who could benefit please contact 0114 203 9002. We expect that future sessions will be run on a Thursday.