Welsh Government supporting foodbanks and local community groups with book-gifting for children and young people
Community groups and foodbanks across Wales have added children’s books to the list of resources and support they are able to provide for families from this spring.
As part of their delivery of Welsh Government’s book-gifting campaign, the Books Council of Wales have supplied over 40,000 books to foodbanks, community organisations and other local groups to make books available to children and young people in their local communities.
Nurturing a love of reading sits at the core of the Books Council of Wales’ work. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic they have delivered several book-gifting campaigns with selected groups such as families, young carers and looked-after children. Providing books and resources was one way to support children and families through the effects of the pandemic, such as social isolation and the impact on their mental health & well-being and educational outcomes.
One of the main aims of this Schools Love Reading book-gifting programme is to provide a choice of high-quality and engaging reading resources for families to use at home.
Shoned Davies, Schools Love Reading Project Manager at the Books Council of Wales, said: “It’s been wonderful to work with our friends and partners at the Trussell Trust, FareShare Cymru, IFAN (Independent Food Aid Network) and many community groups across Wales to deliver these books for children and young people. We chose these high-quality books from amongst the best-selling titles produced by publishers in Wales to include a wide range of age ranges, subjects and titles so that everyone can choose the right book for them. We’d like to thank all the publishers who have worked so hard to make these books available for children across Wales to enjoy.”
“… benefit from the joy of reading”
The Trussell Trust’s Network Lead for Wales, Susan Lloyd-Selby, said: “We are so grateful for the thousands of books provided to our food banks by the Books Council of Wales. Thanks to Welsh Government funding, this initiative has enabled food banks in our network across Wales to provide books to children whose families might otherwise struggle to afford them. The quality and variety of books provided was fantastic and it’s been wonderful to hear about how excited the children have been to receive their books. Last year, Trussell Trust food banks provided over 54,000 emergency food parcels to children in Wales. It’s not right that anyone should have to rely on a food bank, and this initiative has helped ensure that children whose families are struggling financially are able to benefit from the joy of reading.”
“Lots of happy kids and parents”
Tom Mogford, Community Food Members Coordinator for FareShare Cymru, said: “The feedback from our members was fantastic. Many said how well received they were, with lots of happy kids and parents. For families who otherwise might not be able to afford or have access to books like this, it was a very welcome gift. We are grateful for the donation from the Books Council of Wales and, on behalf of our members and their communities, would like to thank all involved in making this happen!”
This is the first stage in the Books Council of Wales’ delivery of Welsh Government’s book-gifting scheme. The next stages of this multi-million-pound investment in reading engagement include the gift of an individual book for every learner between the ages of 3 and 16 via all state schools in Wales, and a programme of Schools Gifting, where each state school will receive a specially chosen selection of books for their school library.
The Schools Love Reading programme will mean that learners across Wales have equal access to a diverse range of appealing and quality literature, in Welsh and English, that has been specially selected for children and young people.
Jeremy Miles, the Minister for Education and Welsh Language, said: “Reading is a fundamental skill in just about every aspect of life. I want to ignite a passion for reading for all our children and families. Through this exciting book-gifting initiative, as part of the £5m additional funding from Welsh Government, I want to ensure that every learner in Wales has a book of their own to keep.”