Libraries’ funding boost to tackle loneliness and support mental health

Published Monday 15 February 2021 at 10:01

Blackburn with Darwen Libraries have received a £10,000 boost from The Reading Agency to use the proven power of reading to tackle loneliness and support mental health, as part of the borough’s Covid-19 recovery.

The ‘Read, Talk, Share’ campaign provides the opportunity for library services across England to offer Reading Friends, a reading befriending programme, which starts conversations and connects people who are lonely and isolated. The Reading Agency will also be rolling out their Reading Well mental health booklists, with every library in England being gifted these collections.

While people are unable to meet up in each other’s houses during current restrictions, we know that there are some isolated Blackburn with Darwen residents who don’t have access to the same digital communications as others.  The money from The Reading Agency will be spent on providing devices that can help them to take part in virtual Reading Friends groups, as well as adding more titles to the extensive range of eBooks and eAudio that the borough libraries already provide.

Blackburn with Darwen’s Executive Member for Wellbeing, Councillor Damian Talbot, said:

This is a great initiative which will help to connect lonely people during these difficult times, as well as supporting mental health.  I hope people will make the most of it and contact the library if they feel they could benefit from the campaign.

More information about Reading Friends can be found on the programme’s website  If you are interested in setting up, running or joining a Reading Friends group in the Blackburn with Darwen borough, please contact Blackburn Library (01254) 661221 or email

To find out more about the ‘Read, Talk, Share’ campaign, visit the Reading Agency’s website.

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