Give a Book’s ethos is to ‘promote books and the pleasure of reading in the hardest to reach places.’ Below are just three places we have sent books to this Christmas, in hope they bring with them some festive spirit.
In January 2016 we started going once a month to an inspirational drop-in centre for destitute asylum seekers to set up a children’s reading area. More than 100 families would turn up coming from countries as diverse as Albania, Algeria, Angola, DRC, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Mongolia, Morocco, Pakistan, Nigeria, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Tunisia and Zimbabwe.
Asylum seekers are those who have a well-founded fear of persecution in their country of origin, who have applied for refugee status and are waiting on a decision. Many endured horrors to get here. Some will be granted refugee status, others will be deported. Meanwhile they are not entitled to work. Some have been waiting for 10 years for a decision.When new families arrived at the centre they were offered a hot meal, practical and legal advice, nappies, vouchers, English lessons.
Since March 2020, because of COVID-19 the drop-in centre has had to change its modus operandi. Fewer families could visit the centre in-person, but the staff and volunteers– undaunted as ever– went on delivering resources and supplies to their guest families wherever they could. They also became key partners in providing resources for the homeless of London during this period.
The children’s reading area has not yet re-opened because of COVID-19 mitigations that remain in place but Give a Book is pleased to be able to give books for Christmas gifts to the children during December and January.
The drop-in for asylum seekers is just one of many Interfaith projects run jointly by the Regent’s Park Mosque, St Paul’s Church Marylebone and the West London Synagogue.
The Winchester Project (The Winch). based and working in Camden, North London, who help each child succeed regardless of their circumstances. This Christmas, they have been giving out food parcels to families and Give a Book provided a book to go along with the parcel.
‘Our mission is to help each child succeed regardless of their circumstances. We build long-term relationships from an early age with children, young people and their families, often facing huge challenges. We work with them as individuals, stand by them as they grow up into adults and show we are in their corner. At its core, the Winch is a place for people to explore their potential, find their purpose, follow ambitions and live the life they deserve.’
Give, Help, Share is a charity who supply 2000 families a month via schools, with plant based food parcels and also have introduced nutritional workshops to year 6 children. They first came across our trustee, Joanne Barnett’s radar who passed them on to us. It’s a really wonderful initiative started in 2020 by 2 teachers following Marcus Rashford’s campaign. The age range for the children is 7-12 and they want to give 500 children in Barnet, Haringey and some areas of Hertfordshire a gift at Christmas to go in the food parcel.