ONLINE book readings are just one of the things being offered under a new scheme to reduce isolation across Sandwell.

The Libraries and Archive Service is launching a new Reading Friends project aimed at connecting people and reducing loneliness.

It will include a new telephone reading group, one-to-one telephone conversations with Reading Befrienders, and online book readings for all ages which will be showcased on the library service’s Facebook page.

It’s free to join and open to all adults.

The Libraries Service is receiving funding from The Reading Agency to enable the start of a Reading Friends programme.

The funding is part of £5million awarded to Arts Council England from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) for arts and library services, of which £3.5 million has been awarded to national charity The Reading Agency for their Reading Well and Reading Friends programme.

Councillor Danny Millard, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member responsible for libraries, said: “As a result of the pandemic, isolation has become a major issue. Thanks to this new funding, we can help to bring our residents together safely, encouraging reading and continue to grow the community spirit that has helped Sandwell endure these many months.”

For more information contact Outreach Library Services on 0121 569 2600 or email