Reading for Recovery

28 March 2023

We spoke to Mpilo, who works at the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust. Last year, OHFT gifted books to users of their services, giving them access to books that they wouldn’t typically have.

Who did you give your World Book Night 2022 book to and why did you choose those recipients?

The World Book Night book Straight Outta Crawley by Romesh Ranganathan was given to service users (inpatients or outpatients) with mental health needs both young and old. Our organisation (OHFT) supports the recovery of people with a range of mental health needs and/or learning difficulties. These people often have coexisting problems such as homelessness, substance abuse, old age and poverty which make it very difficult for them to access reading materials. Evidence strongly suggests that reading will help with their recovery, for example by creating and engaging shared interest.

What activity did you do to support their reading?

Getting books from World Book Night has helped to set up patient reading groups and for 2023 we are planning to set up a staff Book Club using some of the books received.

How have you used the local library service to support their reading?

To continue supporting the patients’ reading groups we have collaborated with public libraries to be able to source more books for the reading groups. Wish lists are collected from the reading groups via the occupational therapists or activity coordinators and sent to the public library reading groups librarians to register the groups and select the books. Health Librarians collect the book boxes from the nearest public library. If the books on a wish list are not available, the Reading Groups Librarians make their pick.

What impact has this activity and receiving the books had on your recipients?

Evidence strongly suggests that reading will help with their recovery, for example by creating and engaging shared interest. For example, some service users have said that attending reading groups has helped them gain their confidence back in reading and speaking, because as they read and discuss the group members listen to them and respect their views. For some receiving a brand-new book makes them feel happy and honoured. Some inpatients may have been avid users of public libraries and giving them books in this environment may help revive their memories and still make them feel still part of the community as before admission into hospital. Therefore, this activity does not only develop the reading culture but it also help in the recovery pathways.


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