Northampton Central Library has launched a new programme to bring book lovers together in a bid to help combat loneliness.
Reading Friends aims to use books and games to help overcome social isolation by encouraging people to get together to read, share stories, meet new friends and have fun.
The UK-wide programme, run in partnership with The Reading Agency and developed with funding from the National Lottery Community Fund and the Department of Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS), has been running since June 2017 in a range of locations.
Sessions will be delivered by volunteers and library staff and will be centred around the needs of participants to ensure they match their interests and hobbies through a variety of group and one to one sessions. Free refreshments will also be available.
The programme successfully began a soft launch in West Northamptonshire in November 2021, with fortnightly sessions in partnership with the Hope Centre as part of the local Warm Welcoming Spaces offering.
Speaking on the programme, Deputy Leader of West Northamptonshire Council and Cabinet Member for housing, culture and leisure Adam Brown stated "Loneliness and social isolation are a significant health and wellbeing issue – particularly for older people.
"I am pleased we are able to offer this service in our libraries and support those in need of a safe space and a listening ear, or those who simply want to share their favourite book in good company."
The first Reading Friends session will take place on Wednesday, 15 February, from 11am to 12pm, and will continue on the third Wednesday of each month.
The programme will be launching in other libraries across the county in the near future.