Charity issues

Healthy imagination: exciting new Book Club to help recovering addicts

Usually, the simplest ideas are the best ones!

Sophie Sparham, performance poet and writer from Derby came up with a great one – reading!  But reading with a specific purpose – to help people recovering from drug or alcohol addiction. Sophie explains:

“If alcohol is you life, and you take it away, and you’re in recovery – there is a massive space. And if you can’t fill it, and build on it – then you’ll just go back to the alcohol, which is understandable really.”

Sophie, like millions throughout the country, are passionate about reading. Whether to be informed, intrigued, challenged, or whisked off to another time, another place, another universe, to experience how someone else is feeling, to laugh, or cry…but ultimately to be engaged, entertained and to have one’s imagination enthralled!

“I want to give people an escapism which, alcohol and drugs provide, but without actually having taken anything.  You can be reading …and then you’re in a spaceship, you’re under the sea, you’re a fish, or wherever you are…’s just taking you out of the world for a bit – it can be really healing”

Reading “under the influence” of drugs and alcohol is difficult. Sophie’s idea is of reading as an alternative escapism, as a social experience, an enjoyable diversion that will assist those who are committed to recovering but need support.  Sophie wants to communicate her enthusiasm for books, be part of that support programme in a way that is truly sustainable.

“I’ve always wanted to run a book club. I’ve seen the effects of alcohol and I’ve always wanted to do it, and then I approached Aquarius”

In conjunction with Aquarius ( charity helping recovering addicts, and families), based on Wilson Street in Derby, the project will be launched on 3rd January 2018 5:30pm called “Hooked on Books”. The format is that each participant will be provided with a brand new copy of the book at the beginning of each month – the first one being ” A Street Cat named Bob”, and then 4 weeks later the group will meet up, have a discussion, share what they experienced, what they felt etc. Over time the idea is that the group will decide the titles which they’d like to read.

“You get a brand new beautiful book to start your library, your new journey…and it’s like a milestone when you’ve read the book, and then we can share thoughts and opinions, and then pick up the next one…and before you know it, it’s been a year of reading”

The project needs funds to provide the books, publicity and time. Obtaining funding is a lengthy process, and Sophie wanted to start the project as soon as possible.. so she approached Derby News for a grant to buy her some time. So I’m pleased to have been able to provide that funding for the 1st 3 months.

If you would like to join the Book Club please see details on the poster below, or Sophie can be contacted direct on

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