Library users in Thurrock can benefit from a nationwide scheme aimed at tackling loneliness by starting conversations through reading.
Reading Friends launches in Thurrock on Wednesday 3 February to reconnect adults, including readers and non-readers, with others and make new friends.
Online groups will meet weekly on Tuesdays or Saturdays and an online parents group will be held fortnightly on Wednesdays. The online groups will eventually expand to take place in borough libraries once government guidance permits this.
Weekly befriending calls with residents who use the Home-Link service will also be offered through the scheme until Wednesday 31 March 2021. This opportunity is also available to other library users.
Cllr Deb Huelin, Cabinet member for communities, said: "The last year has and continues to be a very difficult time due to the coronavirus pandemic, it has led many people to be isolated from friends, family and loved ones.
"Our libraries have been in touch with MIND, Thurrock Adult Community College, and residential and care homes to spread the word about this scheme and bring more people together.
"I'm delighted that Reading Friends will be available to our residents and help anyone who is feeling lonely to reach out, meet new people and have fun."
Books from the Reading Well programme mental health booklist for children, young people and adults are already available in Thurrock libraries and more stock will be added when the borough libraries reopen. These will also be available as e-books and e-audio and added to Borrowbox.
For more information, go to thurrock.gov.uk/readingfriends