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Hospital doctor prescribes reading in bed to boost well-being

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A book trolley service has been rolled out in Morriston Hospital in an attempt to consign patient boredom to the pages of history.

The scheme, which sees patients presented with books, magazines or puzzles, was successfully launch in Neath Port Talbot (NPT) Hospital last winter.

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Such was its success in preventing boredom and promoting well-being it has since been expanded to Morriston Hospital thanks to the support of library services and volunteers.

The idea of reading in hospital beds was championed in NPT Hospital by Dr Aisha Ansar and initially trialled in Ward F (medical ward) by members of staff.

Dr Ansar said: “We think it’s a great service and the staff of Ward F have been instrumental in helping to set this up. We ran a pilot and the staff themselves took the trolley round to ensure that it could be done safely with minimum disruption.

“Obviously the wards are too busy for this to be a long term solution, so we’re thrilled that the volunteer service has come on board to provide volunteers to take over the trolley rounds. This will allow us not only to sustain the service, but to roll it out to other wards and other Swansea Bay sites.”

Clinical Librarian, Jennie Roe said: “There’s plenty of evidence of the benefits of reading – it has been used to reduce anxiety and depression, and a study found that participation in activities such as reading and doing crosswords is associated with a reduced risk of dementia. It’s so important to keep patients engaged, particularly in medical wards where they may be for a while.”

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Morriston based library assistant, Angela Higgins (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

Morriston based library assistant, Angela Higgins said: “It was initially started in Neath Port Talbot Hospital, Books on Wheels, which was a great success. It was then rolled out into Morriston.

“We’ve had support from the medical doctor, Aisha Ansar, who implemented it onto the medical wards, with great success.

“So far, we’ve had such good feedback from staff and patients that we have rolled it out onto the surgical wards and other departments in the hospital.

“We’ve had great support from the matrons – we wouldn’t have been able to do it without their support – and obviously the volunteer service – they have been brilliant – we couldn’t do it without them.

“It’s of such great benefit to the staff and obviously the patients, for their well-being.

“We have two trolleys at the moment covering medical wards and surgical wards.

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“We’ve got fiction, crime, family sagas – in large print as well – and we also give out magazines.”

The health board’s volunteer service is also working with Discovery, a student led charity based in Swansea, whose volunteers have been creating activity packs and puzzles for distribution on the wards.

Angela said: “Some people like a book, some people like a magazine. It’s all about having some sort of contact with people as well. Especially if you haven’t seen your relatives for a long time.”

Book trolley volunteer Susan Davies (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)
Book trolley volunteer Susan Davies (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

Book trolley volunteer Susan Davies said that it wasn’t all about books.

“Some of them just enjoy having a chat for a couple of minutes,” she said.

“It’s nice to see a different face, I think that’s what the patients quite like. It’s only recently visiting has been reintroduced and you are the only person they saw outside of medical staff.

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“Of course, they do like the books – murder mysteries and thrillers seem to be the most popular genre – and they are always surprised to discover that there’s no charge. That’s quite an asset as some are worried that they haven’t got their purses or wallets.

“They are always very thankful.”

(Lead image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Books & Literature

Library staff help bring new-style Swansea stories to life

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Swansea library staff are at the forefront of a unique new storytelling experience coming to the city this month.

Teams from around Swansea Council’s libraries service are playing their own unique roles in immersive experience StoryTrails.

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It’s part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, a ground-breaking UK-wide celebration of creativity in 2022 and is led by the National Centre for Immersive Storytelling: StoryFutures Academy.

“Our library staff provide the Swansea public with a great service day in day out.

“It’s great that they’re using their talent, skills and dedication to help bring StoryTrails to life in Swansea.

“It will be an amazing two days of fun for local people and I know that families from around the area will enjoy the new experiences it brings.”

Library staff involved include Karen Gibbins, Gwilym Games and Bethan Lee.

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Library services manager Karen Gibbins (Image: Swansea Council)

Library services manager Karen said: “StoryTrails is the UK’s largest ever immersive storytelling project. It’s great for Swansea to be one of the 15 venues and it’s great for us library staff to get involved.”

Local studies and special collections librarian Gwilym said: “StoryTrails will allow local people to experience Swansea in a completely new way through the magic of augmented and virtual reality. They’ll use new technology to travel back in time, experiencing gripping local histories.”

Local studies and special collections librarian Gwilym Games (Image: Swansea Council)

Principal librarian Bethan said: “Our Swansea stories will be brought to life in the places where they happened, reanimating public spaces and creating a free, entertaining and playful family-friendly experience.”

StoryTrails will visit Swansea Central Library on August 10-11 from 11am -7pm when local creative talent will help showcase the stories.

Digital storyteller Owen Richards is making an interactive immersive map of Swansea. Filmmaker Jay Bedwani is making an augmented reality story trail around the city.

Stories will be brought alive in new and surprising ways with the help of archive material from the BFI, national and regional film archives as well as the BBC.

Swansea’s audiences will be guided through an immersive tour of the city as they explore stories across virtual and augmented reality and via a series of installations.

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Outside the library, visitors will enter a virtual story portal to begin the StoryTrails experience, guided by a free mobile AR app and local performers. Photo ID will be required to borrow equipment for this.

The AR trail, accessed through mobile devices, invites visitors to discover Joe Cascarini’s route to building the now famous Swansea brand Joe’s Ice Cream, from his arrival from Italy in the 1920s, through his supportive relationship with his sister to present day and a digital centenary party to which everyone is invited. 

The trail was created using film from BBC, British Film Institute and local archives to present a window into the past. Visitors can borrow devices from the library and follow guided AR trails across the two-day event as well as follow the route independently by downloading the app onto their own devices.  

Inside the library, visitors will be immersed in a virtual map of the city that will be made up of 3D models and audio stories. They will also have the opportunity to explore further stories via bespoke virtual reality experiences.

The immersive map reveals 10 stories of local people and familiar landmarks, such as Mumbles Pier, the Swansea.com Stadium and the National Waterfront Museum. 

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The map was created by 3D-scanning people and buildings that build up a picture of the life and heritage of each location. The 15-minute films play on a loop throughout the day and a further 20 stories can be viewed on iPads in the library.

Professor James Bennett, director of StoryFutures and StoryTrails, said: “This is about getting people excited about where they live – helping them connect with stories of their towns and cities from the past and present through a new lens.

“New technologies like AR and VR can help build these connections and reignite people’s passion for the past.

“These technologies are for everyone – we want to find ways to engage people from all generations and spark a genuine celebration in each of our incredible locations.”

StoryFutures Academy, the UK’s National Centre for Immersive Storytelling, is at the forefront of training and up-skilling creative media professionals in the use of the next generation of storytelling tools.

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It is run by Royal Holloway, University of London and the National Film and Television School (NFTS).

StoryFutures Academy wants to ensure that the UK’s creative industries are not only the best trained in the use of these game-changing technologies but that the future workforce properly represents the full diversity of UK talent.

Lead image: Swansea libraries staff – key members of the city’s StoryTrails team. (Image: Swansea Council)

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Books & Literature

Carmarthenshire children urged to take part in Summer reading challenge

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Children in Carmarthenshire are being urged to take part in this year’s Summer Reading Challenge which is all about science and innovation.

They’re being asked to visit any of Carmarthenshire’s libraries during the school summer holidays to ‘meet the Gadgeteers’.

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Through an exciting book collection and accompanying activities, the ‘Gadgeteers’ will help spark children’s curiosity about the world around them and encourage them to feed their imagination. They will be boggled by brilliant facts and be inspired by tales of creativity and invention.

The Summer Reading Challenge is open to all primary school-aged children aged four to 11 and combines free access to books, and fun, creative activities during the summer holidays.

Children can sign up through their local library where they will receive their Gadgeteers core pack poster. They can set a reading goal and borrow and read books of their own choice.

Children who complete the Summer Reading Challenge are presented with a certificate and a medal.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure Culture and Tourism Cllr Gareth John (pictured at Carmarthen Library with children from Ysgol Y Dderwen) said: “The Summer Reading Challenge is a fun initiative for families during the summer holidays, and it’s free to take part.

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“It can help children to improve their reading skills and confidence before they return to school in September, and it is also a good opportunity for families to explore the range of books available at our libraries.

“With plenty of options across picture books, early readers and middle grade books,

there is lots to keep children busy.”

The Summer Reading Challenge, a unique partnership between The Reading Agency and public libraries across the UK.

Children are also encouraged to explore the dedicated Summer Reading Challenge website, where they can take part in the digital Challenge and explore various online activities.

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Lead image: Cllr Gareth John at Carmarthen Library with children from Ysgol Y Dderwen (Image: Carmarthenshire Council)

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Books & Literature

Join the Gadgeteers for a summer reading challenge

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This weekend sees the launch of the Summer Reading Challenge in Wales – a much loved initiative to keep children reading over the summer holidays.

This summer, children aged 4-11 can visit their local library to meet the Gadgeteers and to get involved in a science and innovation themed Summer Reading Challenge.

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Through taking part in the Challenge, with free materials from libraries across Wales and online via the Challenge website, children will be able to join six fictional Gadgeteers. The characters – brought to life by children’s writer and illustrator Julian Beresford – use their curiosity and wonder to understand the science behind a whole range of interests, from fashion and technology to cooking and music. 

Through an exciting book collection and accompanying activities, the Gadgeteers will help to spark children’s curiosity about the world around them, and encourage them to feed their imagination over the summer holiday. They will be boggled by brilliant facts, gaze at the stars, and be inspired by tales of creativity and invention. With plenty of great options across picture books, early readers and middle grade books. 

The Welsh Government is working with the Books Council of Wales to bring the Summer Reading Challenge to libraries and communities across Wales.

Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, Dawn Bowden, said; “There’s nothing better than getting carried away in a good book or two over the summer holidays, and I’m delighted that we’re able to support libraries across Wales to make reading a fun-filled activity for children across Wales – and to help them discover the joy of reading and spark their imaginations.

“I’d like to thank all of the library staff involved in making the Summer Reading Challenge such a success in Wales.

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Education Minister, Jeremy Miles, said: “The summer holidays are a great time to discover new stories and enjoy sharing them with family and friends. The Summer Reading Challenge is a fantastic opportunity to ignite a passion for reading in children so they can develop the important skills they need later in life. I encourage children across Wales to visit their local library and take up the challenge.”

During 2021, the Summer Reading Challenge reached 21,148 children across Wales in partnership with public libraries. The Challenge continued to reach well over half a million children across the UK in 2021 as lockdowns eased, motivating children to keep reading during a difficult time. Families told The Reading Agency that taking part in the Summer Reading Challenge helped their children to enjoy reading more, feel more confident about reading and ‘feel better’ during a tough period. Family use of libraries also increased amongst Challenge participants, with more than 1779 children from Wales joining the library as new members.

Angharad Sinclair, Books Council of Wales, said: “The Books Council of Wales is proud to work alongside The Reading Agency and public libraries to support this valuable and important initiative again this year. We believe that a love of reading is a wonderful and powerful tool, that not only equips them with an important life skill, but also opens up a world of possibilities and adventures. What better way to enjoy the summer holidays than exploring the wealth of books that are on offer through your local library and having fun with the Gadgeteers at the same time!”

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