We're delighted to have Louie Freeman-Bassett, founder of Generation Book Club on our blog this week. Generation Book Club is a campaign to fight loneliness and bring generations together through the mighty power of book clubs.
The past year has of course been gruelling at best and utterly devastating for some. But despite this, though it feels strange to say, there have been some silver linings.
For me, it was the realisation that complete strangers are on the whole actually very kind and willing to help each other out - who knew!
When the first lockdown came I found myself, like many, with absolutely nothing to do. Social circles fell away and most hobbies became impossible. Catch ups with friends were often brief - despite the magnitude of everything that was happening, there was often very little to say day to day (which was of course also kind of a blessing considering the circumstances).
The only hobby I began to indulge in more was reading. It gave me a quick escape route out of the bleak day to day and just something to aim for.
I read more and more and I realised that it wasn’t only reading that I enjoyed but the discussing of it with friends and family.
Not only this, but I was connecting more with older friends and relatives than I’d ever done before.
I realised that what I’d stumbled on was nothing new and had already been harnessed by the brilliant institution of the book club.
I realised others could benefit from this too and so set up Generation Book Club - a campaign to fight loneliness and bring generations together through the mighty power of book clubs.
The idea was pretty simple: try and let as many people know as possible that book clubs can be a great way to fight loneliness and meet people of different ages.
Book clubs sign our 'Pledge' to be welcoming to people of all generations, so that anyone looking for a welcoming book club now knows where to go.
Thirty clubs have signed up so far across the country from Harrogate to Weybridge and Exeter to Norwich. The range of interest is fantastic too: from short stories in the Oxford Short Fiction Book Club, to classics in The Great American Novel Book Club and even food in the Cookery Book Book Club!
This is why I take some positives away from the year. We are hopefully more aware of the problem of social isolation and loneliness, but also more prepared to try and help do something about it. I hope in the next year we can keep moving forward, along with brilliant charities like the Marmalade Trust.