InterAct Stroke Support started as InterAct Reading Service in the year 2000 and was the brainchild of theatre director, Caroline Smith, who had been nursing her brother through a terminal illness.
Caroline's brother, a doctor by profession, enjoyed being read to throughout this period. During one of Caroline's visits, brother and sister were discussing the relationship between the arts and health and began to wonder how they might be more mutually supportive.
With her background in theatre, Caroline wondered whether there might be a synergy between drama, literature and medical support for those recovering from damage to the brain.
Caroline understood that professional actors possess a unique skillset. Actors have the stamina to sustain long periods of reading, can hold the concentration of someone in a busy hospital environment, and with physical and vocal dexterity can stimulate the imagination and bring a story to life.
No other organisation offered such a service, so Caroline began reading on a voluntary basis at her local hospice, the Pembridge Palliative Care Centre.
Hospital professionals at the Pembridge encouraged Caroline to read to stroke survivors. After several months and a great deal of learning, InterAct was launched. Stroke survivors were now the charity's key beneficiaries.
InterAct understands that stroke is a life-changing event and that recovery is a lifelong process. The charity has grown and thrived. The recognition and support from stroke survivors, their families and friends, therapists, medical specialists and their staff is key to InterAct's continued success.
A whistle-stop tour of InterAct's work
We now read in 19 hospitals (including in Scotland and Wales) and over 50 stroke clubs across the country, as well as delivering ongoing community projects.