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Books Against Loneliness campaign steps up a gear

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After a successful start to their Books Against Loneliness project, Winstone’s Hunting Raven Books is proud to be extending the scheme in collaboration with Mendip Health Connections.

Books Against Loneliness aims to raise awareness of the role books can play in helping combat loneliness and to highlight the fact that Hunting Raven is an important social hub in the town; a place where conversations happen and connections are made.

As part of the scheme, Hunting Raven has already been holding friendly and informal ‘one-to-ones’ with members of Frome befriending charity Active and in Touch. Hunting Raven is now offering sessions to individuals who are being supported by Mendip Health Connections.

Community connector co-ordinator Julie Carey-Downes says, “Health Connections Mendip exists to help people in our local community improve and maintain good health and wellbeing through making meaningful connections and working one-to-one with individuals. We are thrilled to be able to work with Hunting Raven – the sessions sound like a real treat and we know that books and reading can be a lifeline for those experiencing loneliness or struggling with their mental health.”

Hunting Raven manager Tina Gaisford-Waller says, “The one-to-ones are so much fun. Over coffee and cake, we have a good chat with our guest, asking them all about what’s important to them. We then select a book that we think would be the perfect read for our guest, wrap it up beautifully with a handwritten letter explaining our choice, and gift it to them. The idea is to give people a genuine moment of undivided attention and assure them of the warm welcome they can expect to receive when they walk through our doors.”

The project is part-funded by a grant awarded to Hunting Raven from publisher Pan Macmillan to mark their 175th birthday. To help fully meet the project’s aims, Hunting Raven is also selling Books Against Loneliness tote bags in the shop. Bags cost £7, with all profits invested back into the project.

Tina adds, “We will also be asking our customers to write friendly, personal messages on Books Against Loneliness postcards, which we will slip into random books around the shop. We want these hidden messages to serve as little reminders of the warmth, love and friendship that can be found in our supportive little town.”

For more information about the Books Against Loneliness project please email Tina at  booksagainst loneliness@gmail.com

If you are experiencing loneliness and could use some support, please contact Active and in Touch on 07572 854029 or visit www.activeandintouch. weebly.com. If you would like to start your journey to better health and wellbeing through connecting with local groups and people, visit www.healthconnections mendip.org or call  01373 468368.

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