Last week The Reader Organisation (TRO) held an event to share information about their plans for Calderstones Mansion. TRO has taken over the Mansion and are in the process of creating an international flagship project for shared reading. The building will provide a venue for shared reading groups, and a base for TRO’s nationwide activities. However the plans involve much more: a garden theatre space; a Storybarn for children (coming in the Autumn); enhanced interpretation of the history of the park including the Calder Stones; events spaces; expanded cafe facilities and space for small businesses.
TRO have already started to make this happen – a potter has moved into studio space at the back of the building, there has been an archaeological dig, the Globe Theatre have performed in the garden and the cafe is a roaring success. They are now looking for volunteers to help with the next stages of development – with event delivery over the summer, with painting and decorating, and with the building of yards and yards of bookshelves.
At the event, HOP picked up copies of research reports into the impact of literature based work with older people living with dementia. The research has been carried out by the University of Liverpool’s Centre for Research into Reading, Information and Linguistic Systems. The reports are full of data and analysis of the impact of reading in this context, but they also contain powerful and very moving case studies. One makes an interesting observation – that many of the patients are from the generation which learned and recited poems off by heart at school, and as a result they have a feel for poetry and an ability to engage with literature which makes shared reading a very appropriate way to connect.
Copies of the research reports are available from The Reader Organisation and you can find out more about their work and how to volunteer to support Calderstones Mansion here.