wood street mission

Wood Street Mission has launched their Books Forever 2021 Appeal, which asks people to donate brand new books for children up to age sixteen this Easter, rather than the usual Easter eggs.

Their year-round Books Forever project aims to provide lower-income children in Manchester and Salford with books that they can keep for life, however, this stand-alone Easter appeal is the one time they ask for new books only.

Des Lynch, the Manager of Wood Street Mission, explained: “We moved away from Easter eggs 3 years ago, the reason being that there are so many food banks that deal with food all day long so it seemed sensible to let them deal with it because there’s so many realms of work that we do that no other organisation does, so we should be spending our resources on doing something which isn’t covered by anyone else.

“And to be honest, when we last did Easter eggs, we had over 10,000 sent to us, which is great but from a health point of view it’s not good, and we thought we’d get longer-term value if we could turn some of those donations of Easter eggs into books and it resonated with people as they could see the point of it – books have a long term impact, unlike Easter eggs, as nice as they are.”

Image: Wood Street Mission

The appeal timely started on World Book Day, and donators have until April 16th to send books in, with both fiction and non-fiction being welcome.

Books should be donated directly from online retailers to 26 Wood Street, Manchester M3 3EF, as drop-offs can not be accepted due to the current coronavirus restrictions.

Wood Street Mission will distribute the books to local children via their Family Basics service, as well as their Book Clubs and Roadshows when restrictions are lowered later in the year.

Des said: “When we did it 2 years ago, we got 5000 new books given to us which was amazing so we’re hoping this year we’ll at least match that because obviously, kids need things to do more than ever now.”

“The pandemic has also highlighted even more the inconsistencies and the injustice of our society, where families that were already struggling, have had their struggles heaped upon by what’s been happening over the last 12 months.

“Two years ago there was a report done that estimated that there were some 76,000 children living in poverty within the cities of Manchester and Salford, so what the figures are now, one can only imagine given the effects of the pandemic.

“Education is the way out of any situation of poverty, but you can’t get your most out of your education if you struggle with literacy, and some of the literacy rates in Manchester and Salford are appalling.

“The more families struggle, the higher the likelihood is they lose out on receiving new reading material because it’s not in people’s budgets, unfortunately, so if we can make that shortfall up and provide kids access to books that they want to read, then hopefully they can take that on board and make the most of their education then. It’s about leveling up the playing field.”

Since the start of the year, Wood Street Mission have already distributed 5550 books and 1700 activity packs to over 1670 children from 18 schools, as well as to community and youth groups.

One of the longest standing charities in the region, Wood Street Mission was founded in 1869 and has spent the last 150 years supporting low income families from across Manchester and Salford.

Although the charity is only asking for new books for the Books Forever Appeal, they will resume accepting preloved books once the appeal is over.

As well as donating books, support can be shown by sharing the appeal online using the hashtag #BooksForeverAppeal, and by donating financially through the Wood Street Mission website.

Des said: “I’d encourage anybody to go online, enjoy having a browse, choose a book and send it into us and we’d be most grateful because that book can make a whole world of difference to an awful lot of children out there.”

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