By Laura Hughes

Published: JMU Journalism 29/11/16

Liverpool-based charity, The Reader, is taking part in The Big Give’s Christmas Challenge to help raise funds to assist the elderly.

The event, which launched today on Giving Tuesday, will run through until midday on Friday December 2nd.

The Challenge is the UK’s biggest online match funding campaign, giving organisations a chance to double any public donations received within the 72-hour window.

The Reader has been paired with The Pilgrim Trust and Postcode Support Trust, who have pledged to match £20,000 in public donations, giving the charity the opportunity to raise a total of £40,000.

Pledges of cash gifts must be made online during the Christmas Challenge to ensure the funds are doubled.

The Reader supports older people experiencing loneliness and social isolation. Staff and volunteers visit over 500 people aged over 50-years-old in care homes and community and residential settings and read aloud together. This has been shown to improve well-being and reduce the feeling of loneliness.

The Reader communications assistant, Emma Walsh, told JMU Journalism: “All the money that we raise will go towards our work with older people.

“It will help going to train and support up to 20 new volunteers who will then be going in to the share reading groups or the care homes or actually one-to-one in the home with an older person. I think we’ve estimated we will reach up to 150 older people through this project, which is great.”

To mark The Big Give Christmas Challenge, a host of free festive fun events, such as poetry readings, film screenings and children’s activities will be held at their Calderstones Park HQ.

Emma added: “There is lots going on. It does feel that from what we’re hearing from group members and people that visit the café every day that it’s going to be very busy with people coming along. It is going to be quite a festive hub over the next few days.

“I actually went to interview a 95-year-old lady (Betty) on the Wirral a few weeks ago and she reads with one of our volunteers, Julie Ledger, every week. The volunteer goes to her home every Tuesday morning and it was so lovely to hear her story and what it means to her.”

Donations can be made to help The Reader online here.

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