Tomorrow I am attending the Australian Loneliness Dialogue. The first conference on loneliness and social isolation in Australia. Friends for Good, a charity that has social isolation and loneliness as its focus, have been planning this for a while. The groups aim is to bring together people and organisations that tackle with the growing problem of loneliness in Australia. A recent article in The Conversation highlighted this issue. One in four Australians admit to be lonely and it is not just bad for their mental health but it affects all of us as it takes a huge toll on mental and physical well-being. We all pay for this.
There are many factors thought to contribute to this growing trend: they way we live now, more connected on computers and with technology, but less connected to other people in a meaningful way.
Shared reading is one, of many ways, that this deficit can be filled. Words on a page from a book, a good book or even a not so good book, can create worlds, take the reader to foreign lands or put the reader in unfamiliar surroundings. This is a type of magic. But shared reading gives this magic an extra dimension: the connection between the words, listener, other members of the circle and, sometimes, over time itself, lift the experience into another realm.