Every school holiday we issue holiday hunger parcels for families in need. We know from experience that families who need food assistance have by necessity already cut back on (or never had) 'nice to have’ items that better off families take for granted. Things that help with their children’s education such as access to the internet or, particularly for this project, books. The DoE have highlighted research showing that reading for pleasure has a positive impact on educational attainment and personal development. Not only that, they find that 88% of children say that they enjoy reading. So the problem isn’t desire, it’s access.
We are looking for funding to include a £10 book voucher in the next set of school holiday hunger parcels that we send out so that children get a chance to and choose a book for themselves – something they are interested in. Obviously, this is not going to solve the problem of access to books on its own but it is a step. We intend to link this with a campaign of information from local libraries showing children what is available there, how to join and use the library, the times the library is open and make sure that they know that libraries are free to use. We hope that the book voucher can be a spark that helps develop their interest in reading and the proven benefits that can bring.
Every school holiday we are producing between 160 -180 school holiday hunger parcels so weare very experienced in this. We partner with local schools and children’s services teams so that they choose the families that most need this assistance. We always try and add in more than just food – for example in the parcels we have sent for summer we included a recipe they could make from some of the items we sent, and art packs for the children that had been put together by specialist organisations we partner with. We always look for feedback on the parcels and ideas of what else to include – so we know that book vouchers are needed and will be welcomed by the families.