Story #1

Kindle Book Club at Streets Ahead for Information, Middlesbrough

Established more than 15 years ago, Streets Ahead for Information is a charitable residents’ information, help and advice centre based in central Middlesbrough. 

More than 4,000 local residents – many of whom are highly vulnerable and in need of additional support – are helped by the charity every year via its one-stop-shop facility. A wide range of activities from their office, which has IT and meeting room facilities, is provided. Just a few of the areas residents are helped with are employment, education, community care and crime prevention. 

We spoke to the charity’s enterprising ESOL, Life & Learning Tutor, Jackie Fearon, who explained how one of their latest projects designed to bring people together came about: 

“ At Streets Ahead we are acutely aware of how the pandemic has increased social isolation for local residents – and this is particularly the case for those not accustomed to using IT, Internet or mobile phones. 

Back in September 2020 we started our Kindle Book Club with eight residents and Kindles! Most people needed reassurance and support using and navigating the pages of the Kindle. Only one member had used a Kindle before so this was a new challenge. Over the following weeks we read Paul O Grady’s autobiography ‘At My Mother’s Knee’. We all had some lively discussions and shared some great memories of growing up in the 1950s and 1960s. 

Due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions our group transformed itself into a ‘Virtual Kindle Club’.  A few of us meet on WhatsApp! But for most it’s about keeping in touch by landline, or a doorstep chat. We collect, recharge kindles and upload books. This regular contact also enables us to offer COVID-19 updates, practical support and advice where needed. 

We think that Kindle Club has so much potential! Kindle Club could be extended to offer English language support to our ESOL students, or even support wider family learning projects.  

Meanwhile, our residents’ feedback has been really positive. Members of Kindle Book Club enjoy using the Kindle and have also learned some IT basics around ‘swiping’ and ‘scrolling’ through menus! We’re all looking forward to meeting again in the future at Streets Ahead and sharing some recommendations.”

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