Reading for Recovery in Springwood

By Celia Vagg, 12 February 2018
CatholicCare Springwood Drop-In Centre's shared reading group. Image: Supplied.

Shared Reading NSW is on a mission – to get communities reading together “We simply bring people together to read great stories,” said Shared Reading’s Christopher Smith. “Wherever people find themselves in life and whatever problems they have – books can help.”

CatholicCare Springwood Drop-In Centre has joined forces with Shared Reading NSW holding a weekly “Read 4 Wellbeing” group in Springwood every Monday at 4pm.

Shared Reading groups create a relaxed space for people to engage with a short story, poem or part of a book aloud, reflect and then discuss it with no pressure on anyone to read anything. For this reason it is great for people who have low confidence with reading, have a disability that prevents them from reading or simply don’t have time to read.

“We often have people come along who are trying to find their feet, they want to connect to others and contribute, but they need to know it is safe first,” said Celia Vagg from CatholicCare.

“When they do start to engage, they find not only the support of people in the group, but also the wisdom and experience that great writers have shared for thousands of years.”

Ms Vagg said groups are about providing a safe space for people to come, “where they are not going to be judged”.

“Everybody is welcome to contribute to the reading or the discussion, but they don’t have to. Some people come along because it gives them the chance to sit with other people, where there is no pressure on them, and the sound of someone reading can be very comforting.”

The benefits of reading are many and varied. Research suggests that reading helps people connect and empathise with others, improves mood, aids relaxation, stimulates cognitive function and can even support people recovering from injury or illness.

“Although we get all these great outcomes, the main point is that it is a lot of fun,” said Ms Vagg.

The READ 4 Wellbeing is part of CatholicCare’s RECOVER Wellbeing program formed in 2014, to provide hope, connection and wellbeing for people with lived experience of mental health issues. Other Recover Wellbeing groups in the Blue Mountains also include CREATE 4 Wellbeing art groups in Katoomba and Lithgow, including an art group specifically for Aboriginal women.

CatholicCare’s Springwood Drop-In Centre is located at 3/163 Macquarie Road, Springwood (next to Blooms Pharmacy). Phone: 02 4751 4956.

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