Turning pages enhances wellbeing of patients at local charity

A local charity has been holding unique reading groups for patients living with incurable illnesses to enhance their wellbeing.

Havens Hospices recently hosted a six-week reading initiative called the ‘Reading Round’ funded by The Royal Literary Fund, Britain’s oldest literary organisation, with local bestselling novelist Syd Moore.

Known for her mystery thrillers, each week Syd introduced the group of patients – who are being supported by the local hospice’s Wellbeing Team – to a wide and varied selection of literature, including short stories, poems, essays and articles.

Every piece of literature was chosen for its originality, unique viewpoint, ability to inspire, delight and challenge, and sheer enjoyment. Guided by Syd, the group discussed each text in detail, discussing the effect they had on them as they read and how the writer achieved it.

Talking about the group, Syd says, “One of the things that I am always really keen to emphasise is that there are no wrong comments, no wrong answers – we are all individuals at different points in our journey, and all of our perspectives are unique and completely valued.

“Everybody’s contributions have been fantastic. Over the course of the group, you see people emerge from their shells, and we have fantastic conversations. We hear their take on a story and what impressed them, and some even share anecdotes of their life as they reminisce.

“It’s ultimately about storytelling and not just the text but the stories that we tell each other as we interpret it because that’s what human beings are about – we are all about stories.”

The group has proved to be a great success with the patients at Fair Havens.

One of the patients, Martin Gilmore, from Rochford, says, “I’ve enjoyed listening to the thoughts of other people and the stories of their lives. On a personal note, it has inspired me to write again – it’s a bit like an old friend I had forgotten about. The Reading Round has given me a feeling of warmth, and I go home with a smile on my face.”

Another patient, Deborah Rogers, from Westcliff, says, “I enjoyed being around people of different ages, all adding their own voice to what we were reading. It has made me think more about what I am actually reading. Now, when I read, I think more about the characters in it and what it is based on. I think about how the author created it and how they thought about it.”

The Wellbeing Team at Fair Havens provides support for patients and families who have been referred to the hospice, offering a range of life-enhancing therapies. There is a wide range on offer, including group participation activities, such as the Reading Round, Stories for Life and Playlist for Life, all designed to enhance the wellbeing of the patients they care for, as well as reduce their anxiety and boost their self-esteem.

Christine Harris, Supportive Therapist Lead at Havens Hospices, says, “Activities like these are so beneficial for the people we support. It gives them a chance to focus on something else rather than thinking about their illness or daily life. It’s about living in the moment and enjoying their life, no matter what illness or condition they are living with.

“We are always looking for new activities and therapies to support the people we care for, so we are really pleased the Reading Round has proved to be a great hit with the group. We are looking forward to running another session soon.”

Fair Havens provides care and support to adults living with incurable conditions in Southend, Castle Point and Rochford. Their services are provided free of charge and include the whole family, helping them make the most of life and make every day count.

To learn more about Fair Havens and how you can support them, visit www.havenshospices.org.uk/fair-havens.

Published 5th February 


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Group of men and women smiling in the reading round