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Guest blog: Listening Books

For people with disabilities or ill health, who find it difficult or impossible to read text, hold a book or turn pages, listening to audiobooks can help relieve pain and stress


Whether it’s discovering a new classic for the first time or revisiting an old favourite, reading can have a huge influence on us.

Would I be the same person without the Harry Potter series, or Jane Eyre, or even The Little Book of Hygge? Well, I certainly wouldn’t drink as much hot chocolate. But what happens if you struggle to read a text due to pain, anxiety or difficulty concentrating?

This is where Listening Books comes in. We are a charity that provides an audiobook library service to over 50,000 members with an illness, disability, learning difficulty or mental health issue that makes it difficult or impossible to read text, hold a book, or turn its pages.

We know that books can help relieve the stress involved with chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia and we want to ensure you can still access them.

Like many who have been diagnosed with a chronic illness, Jan Evans* found it difficult to adjust - but found that audiobooks helped.

She says: "Imagine doing a challenging, but enjoyable job over many years, and then finding you can do very little. At 32 I found myself struggling to shower, dress, and even sitting doing nothing was exhausting. Listening to books helped me to get through those tough early years […] They helped me see something outside my home and gave me ideas to think about […] The problems have improved, but not gone away, 17 years later. Now I still need to lay down in the dark for about four hours during the day and books help me take the rest I desperately need."

The Listening Books Service

Our audiobooks are available in three easily accessible formats - MP3 CDs, streaming and audiobook library.

Our MP3 CDs are delivered directly through the letterbox and there are no postage costs or late fees, so you can listen for as long as you like!

Our online service features streaming that lets you access titles direct through our website, or you can download audiobooks to a portable device like a tablet or phone to listen to while you’re on-the-go.

Our library has over 7,000 fiction and non-fiction titles from bestselling authors, including Neil Gaiman, James Patterson and Margaret Atwood, so there’s something for everyone!

Membership doesn’t just provide you with access to audiobooks: our newsletter features interviews with authors such as Bill Bryson, Alan Bennett and Jacqueline Wilson, as well as reviews of our newest audiobooks and regular competitions!

Membership costs

Membership starts from as little as £20 per year.

We also provide free memberships to anyone who would find the usual membership fee a barrier to joining the service, so if you’d like to join, all you have to do is contact us!

Getting Started

For more information, please visit our Listening Books website.

Alternatively, you can contact Jo Cord at email: or telephone: 020 7407 9417 to find out how to sign up for a membership.

*Names have been changed to protect identities.

Date of publication: April 2017


Coronavirus Information

My child's school is closing due to the coronavirus outbreak. What can I do?

The government has announced that schools will be closing for the majority of students from 20 March 2020.

Children in the following groups will still be able to go to school if their parents choose to send them:

  • The children of key workers
  • Children receiving support from social services
  • Children with disabilities
  • Children with Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs​)
  • Young carers

If you need to take time off work to care for your children, you should check your employment rights on the ACAS website.

What if I am well but my employer tells me not to work because of the coronavirus outbreak?

This will depend on your contract and is an employment law issue. You may be able to get advice from ACAS on this. You will not be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

What if I have been in contact with someone with coronavirus and don’t want to go to work and risk infecting my colleagues and customers?

You will only be able to get special help under the coronavirus rules if you are self-isolating in accordance with NHS advice. You can find the current NHS coronavirus advice on the NHS website

What if I am not getting any customers in my self-employed business because of the coronavirus?

You may be able to claim Universal Credit, but you will not be entitled to any special support because of the coronavirus outbreak. You may have the minimum income floor applied to your claim, or you may be required to look for full time-employment.

I’m on a zero-hours contract, will I get paid if I’m told to self isolate?

If you are self-isolating in accordance with NHS guidance and you usually earn at least £120 per week, you should get Statutory Sick Pay even if you are on a zero hours contract.

What if I am homeless with no income so can’t self-isolate and need funds for accommodation?

The government has not published any guidance for what you should do if you are homeless and develop coronavirus symptoms. It would be best to contact your local authority for advice. You should do so by telephone if at all possible.