We are situated in East Gateshead which is an area of high deprivation - poor health, low educational achievement, low literacy and high unemployment Together with several other local organisations and charities we are doing our part to try to improve the situation and help to give people more hope for a better life.
According to the National Literacy Trust, children born into communities with the most serious literacy challenges have some of the lowest life expectancies in England.
We also note that whereas they may have enjoyed books when they were in primary school, children often show very little interest in books or reading once they reach their teens. If there are no books at home, they become something that is only associated with school, and are therefore rejected. If their parents cannot or do not read, they are even less likely to get into the habit of reading and this has a detremental effect on all aspects of their education.
Judging by the low literacy levels of many people entering the prison system, it seems essential to find ways of keeping young people interested in reading. The first and most obvious way is to get books into people's homes through whatever means we can, whether this is offering free books to parents and children at school, asking the food-banks to offer books we donate as well as food, putting bookshelves in the waiting areas at health centres or giving free books at local fairs and festivals. Let us know if you have more ideas (and time to help).
Some local schools are closing (!!) their libraries and donating the books to us. At the same time, many schools in Gateshead are underfunded and have libraries that are badly in need of care and attention. We are happy for local school librarians and teachers to come to us and take the books they need.
We also have a number of large format books that are perfect for storytime at school or in other groups.
Get in touch and make an appointment to come down and see the selection of books on offer.
Please get in touch with us via the contact page.
Free Book Fridays
We are offering local schools and community groups the chance to introduce Free Book Fridays - once a week or once a month, according to what they feel will work, where there will be a large supply of books provided so that all the childen will have a chance to take books home to keep.
The more books there are in the home, the better chance the children have of keeping up their love of books. We can also supply books for the parents.
If you are a teacher or group leader in Gateshead and are interested in this scheme, please get in touch via the contact page.
A few years ago we planned a project called WordPlay, aimed at teenagers who have lost the love of reading. It's aimed to teach reading while being disguised as word games. Sadly at that time, even though many organisations such as the Young Offenders Team agreed that it was a great idea, we couldn't get any of them to sign up their young people. The Facebook page still exists and there is a steady show of interest, so we hope to be able to breathe new life into this project in the future.
Imagine what could happen if magistrates imposed sentences of, for instance, 15 hours community service and 25 hours learning to read!