Hull City of Culture and Reading Rooms: Passing on the Legacy

Verbal’s popular Reading Rooms project began as part of Derry / Londonderry’s City of Culture year in 2013. That initial investment is still being realised today and Verbal is proud to be continuing to develop the project in its legacy. In December 2016, staff from the Reading Rooms passed this baton on to Hull, City of Culture for 2017.

Reading Rooms is the largest project that Central Library will be undertaking as part of City of Culture 2017. Staff from the Library Service in Hull travelled to the Verbal Arts Centre to be trained in our bespoke OCN Level 2 Facilitation Skills for Shared Reading, and began their own journey working initially with older people in day care and care homes.

Earlier this month, Sinead Devine, Reading Rooms Project Officer for Older People, travelled to Hull to deliver the training to City of Culture volunteers and additional library staff. “Hull is really buzzing,” noted Sinead. “It reminds me of our own City of Culture year and the pride that we all felt in our city here. It was wonderful to meet some of the volunteers and library staff and to share with them the incredible journey the Verbal has made with the Reading Rooms.”

The training took place over three days in the old part of Central Library in Hull in the beautiful room of the Local History Reference Library. Materials were carefully selected and included poetry by Philip Larkin, who spent thirty years working as the University Librarian at the Brynmor Jones Library in the University of Hull, and produced the greater part of his published work during this period. Other pieces reflected on the history of Hull as a busy port with many docks. These pieces were very well received and helped participants to make connections to Hull past, present and even future, reflecting on the four seasons throughout the year.

The training was described by one of the training participants, Maggie, as “an enjoyable insight into how my love of the written word can help others”, which perfectly sums up what Verbal’s volunteers do across Northern Ireland, and what it means to be a part of Reading Rooms.

Alice described it as “teaching you how to listen, how to respect everyone’s opinions… it might even make you appreciate just how amazing life is”. Whilst Isaac noted that it was “A great course that will help develop your own and others’ love of reading, conversation and connection.” The final word belongs to Lesley, who reflected on her role as a volunteer for Reading Rooms: “If you enjoy books and reading poetry you will love this project”.

Hull continues to look for further volunteers to engage on the project as a new set of training is due to take place at the end of April. Sinead Devine is also currently looking for new volunteers to link into her care homes projects in Derry / Londonderry and the Omagh area. For further information please contact her on 028 71 266 9 46.

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