The Reading Rooms programme operates across Northern Ireland engaging with older people; from 26th September we celebrated Positive Ageing Week ,ending on 1st October which marked International Day of Older Persons.
For older people, opportunities to read for pleasure are usually limited due to problems associated with older age such as impaired cognitive function or sight problems. Reading Rooms actively engages older participants both in the enjoyment of the short stories and poems as well as in the conversations that open up as part of the process. Reading Rooms aids conversation and build relationships and gives a voice to those who find it difficult to express themselves. This difficulty could be living with long term conditions such as surviving a stroke or living with dementia where conversations have become very limited as a result and only exacerbate the feelings of isolation and loneliness. Even conversations with loved ones tend to be a one-way route. In these Reading Rooms, the facilitator reading looks specifically at opening up the literature to allow access for those with communication problems such as aphasia to fully participate in the conversation.
The Reading Rooms reaches older people who may be isolated due to living rurally in our custom made mobile bus which travels across Northern Ireland delivering Reading Rooms in remote rural areas.
For Positive Ageing Week, Reading Rooms held events in community centres, day care centres, and residential care homes in Derry/Londonderry, Belfast and Mid Ulster. Highlights included two Reading Rooms at Foyle Disability Resource Centre, Derry/Londonderry which works with those with Acquired Brain Injuries. FDRC represents one of our oldest Reading Rooms partnerships. We also operated in rural areas with more geographically isolated older people. In partnership with RAPID (Rural Area Partnership in Derry) Healthy Ageing Network Programme we held two older people’s Reading Rooms in Park, Co Derry/Londonderry in Learmount Community Centre and in Eglinton Community Centre. This programme has been funded by Lloyds Bank Foundation NI.
In Mid Ulster we had sessions for older people with disabilities at The Base in Magherafelt and at Willowbank in Dungannon, funded by Mid Ulster Council. We also saw a new partnership based in Derry/Londonderry with PRAXIS based at Richmond Hall where we hosted a special Reading Room with the older members of Praxis. In Belfast we operated in Cityway Day Care Centre and with the Upper Andersonstown Community Forum Older People’s Group.
From 6th October, we will then enter into Positive Ageing Month in Belfast where we will host four special older people events in partnership with Eason’s Bookshop in Donegal Place. There are two open Reading Rooms at 7pm on 6th and 13th October and the programme culminates in a shared intergenerational event on Saturday 29th October. Places are limited so please book via email at: