Getting books to vulnerable young people in Middlesbrough
When we went into the first coronavirus lockdown in March 2020, Middlesbrough Reads, in partnership with Middlesbrough Council’s School Readiness team, provided 1800 books for children in need and child protection children (aged 0 to 11). These books were given out by social workers.
We also supported looked after children by donating 175 books suitable for KS3 pupils, which were given out by Virtual School. These books had an RRP of £13,000, and our donation was made possible through the generosity of publishers.
Getting books to vulnerable adults and families
During the coronavirus lockdown, Middlesbrough Council set up the ‘Help Boro Hub’, delivering food parcels to vulnerable residents. A large number of residents being helped by the Hub were single, elderly people, who were socially isolated with no access to libraries. Middlesbrough Reads donated 120 new books for adults, which were included in the food parcels.
25% of the daily food parcel deliveries were going to households with children, so 400 books were donated to be included in the parcels going to vulnerable families. The books had an RRP of over £2000.
Food bank support
After Middlesbrough’s foodbanks took over responsibility for food parcels, Middlesbrough Reads applied to the Tees Valley Community Foundation for a grant to replenish our book stock, so we could keep supporting families. We were successful in getting a grant, and we managed to buy 2000 more books which were given out by the foodbanks.
In partnership with Middlesbrough Council’s School Readiness team, Middlesbrough Reads also donated an extra 350 books to be given out via food parcels from the MFC Foundation. The total RRP of the books was in excess of £13,000.
Supporting Pip – Disabled Mum’s community support
Middlesbrough Reads donated over 400 books to PIPSCO, a food delivery service set up by Phillipa Donegan, best known as ‘Pip – Disabled Mum’, in May 2020.
Pip, with the help of her support worker Madeline and husband John, set up PIPSCO in March 2020. She used their savings to set up a foodbank for disabled and vulnerable local families, all from her spare bedroom. In a two week period at beginning of May 2020, the foodbank provided food for 324 individual children.
As Pip is disabled and classed as at high risk from coronavirus, she had to shield, which meant she couldn’t get out to the supermarket. It was also hard to get home deliveries, so she decided to set up a pop-up store and delivery service to help other people in a similar position. PIPSCO is supported by monetary donations, volunteers, and donations from wholesalers.
Thanks to publishers including Penguin Random House and Pan Macmillan, Middlesbrough Reads was able to donate 400 books to PIPSCO. The books cover age ranges from newborns through to teenagers, and were included with food parcels. Pip also tries to include special treats each week, including chocolates and cornflake tart.
I gave a copy of Harry Potter to a very distressed 13 year old girl (during a DV issue) while collecting an emergency food parcel. In an hour she had read a lot! She told me she doesn’t read books, but a few pages in and she was hooked! Thank you so much to everyone who has made this donation possible – these amazing books are sure to raise some smiles and will help the children learn at home during the pandemic. I always say, as a community, we can pull through this together! – Pip Donegan, founder of PIPSCO
In summer 2020, Middlesbrough Reads received a donation of over 3,000 new magazines, for children and adults. The Children’s Magazine Forum, who represent the biggest magazine publishers, offered some of the huge excess of unsold magazines to Middlesbrough Reads.
We were sent 2000 mixed magazines (with an RRP of over £13,000) which were given out by:
- health visitors (new birth visits)
- social workers to children in need or child protection children
- PIPSCO food bank
- the Ethnic Minority Achievement Team
- Early Help visits
- Early Years practitioners
The magazines have sparked conversations about the value of reading, building relationships, having one to one time as well as building relationships with siblings. As you will know, many of our families are affected by poverty and some families would never have the funds to be able to obtain these magazines, they have been gratefully received – health visitor
The Ethnic Minority Achievement Team distributed 100 magazines on their home visits. Magazines offer a way into reading English which is fun and engaging.
Our service provides educational support to INAs (International New Arrivals) to our community. A magazine is a luxury to most of our children particularly to our asylum seekers and refugees who have never seen a magazine! Magazines break down the language barrier for the children, they are visual, colourful and interactive. Children are reading and they don’t know it! I feel the magazines will turn them on to the joy of reading and hopefully into lifelong readers – EMAT Team
The Publishers Association donated 1000 magazines and puzzle books suitable for adult readers, including Arrow Words, Logic, Mountain Biking UK, Vogue, and House and Garden. These were mainly given out at James Cook Hospital by therapeutic care volunteers, to adult patients who were unable to have visitors because of coronavirus restrictions. The rest were given out to new mums by health visitors.
Autumn foodbank support – White Feather
The White Feather Project is a non-profit charity working in the local community, whose mission is to help support the local community with food poverty, based in North Ormesby. They deliver emergency food care packages to vulnerable people and people in crisis, and also run an eco-food shop serving the local area, to help low income families.
Middlesbrough Reads, in partnership with Middlesbrough Councils’ School Readiness team, donated 500 books, magazines, and stationery packs to be included in the food parcels for families.
Stay Warm & Well – winter support
Middlesbrough Reads was approached by the new Warm and Well Winter Support Project, which has been set up by The Teesside Family Foundation, Ageing Better Middlesbrough, and Middlesbrough Council’s Staying Put Agency. The project delivers essential supplies to older people to help them stay warm, active, and busy over the festive period.
Many older people have been hit particularly hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, leaving them cut off from family and friends, and unable to access the internet. It’s hoped this service can go a long way to helping those who need it across Middlesbrough.
Middlesbrough Reads provided 100 books, 200 magazines, and 80 puzzle books to be included in activity packs being delivered to over 50s, to keep them occupied during the winter months.
Middlesbrough Reads was contacted by disability activist, advocate, and blogger Philippa Donegan (‘Pip – Disabled Mum’) about an idea to give a special Christmas treat to hundreds of Middlesbrough children in December 2020.
Clinically vulnerable children, children with a vulnerable parent, children in low income families, or children in foster care would be unlikely to be able to visit Santa’s grotto in 2020, so Pip wanted to bring Christmas to their doorsteps. Thanks to ongoing donations by publishers, Middlesbrough Reads was able to donate 1400 books, 100 audio books, and 50 tactile books. Each book was wrapped and then quarantined to be safe. Children were referred by family, friends, and professionals, to get a visit from Santa or one of his elves.
ITV news covered the story nationally, along with various media outlets, and by Christmas Eve, 1532 books had been delivered to the doorsteps of vulnerable Middlesbrough children.
“You have made Christmas very special for some children this year!”
“Thank you so much – the boys loved their books!”
“Well done to all the elves, bringing cheer in these strange times!”
NEPACS – Christmas 2020
For the fifth year Middlesbrough Reads has support NEPACS at Christmas. However, in 2020 a different approach was needed due to coronavirus restrictions. Thirty prisoners were allowed to get a Purple Visit from their families – a video call. On the call, the dad would read ‘The Night Before Christmas’, and in the family hamper there was a copy of the book for the child to read along, donated by Middlesbrough Reads.
“Thank you for your continued support – the children will love receiving these very special gifts!”
Christmas at James Cook Hospital
For the fourth year, Middlesbrough Reads donated books for young patients at Christmas.
In 2019, one the many books donated by Penguin Random House was the festive title The Christmasaurus, written by popular children’s author Tom Fletcher. Over 130 copies (with an RRP of over £900) were gifted to young patients at James Cook leading up to Christmas. Thanks to the generosity of local partner WHSmith, a Christmasaurus cuddly toy was gifted to nine-year-old Marley Gill, who was spending time in the hospital at Christmas. His mum said: “reading in hospital is helping to widen his vocabulary and keep his brain active.”
In 2020, Middlesbrough Reads, in partnership with Middlesbrough Council’s School Readiness team, donated 80 books to be given out to young patients over the festive season.
Christmas Foodbank Support
Middlesbrough Reads and Middlesbrough Council’s School Readiness team helped spread the joy of reading over the 2020 festive season by gifting over 3,000 books to a range of fantastic local partners – including the Teesside Family Foundation, The Genesis Project, The Salvation Army, MFC Foundation, Tees Valley Together, The Junction Foundation, and Hemlington Linx. These books were used in Christmas food parcels and hampers, helping families in need of extra support this year.
“Thank you for your support, it really means a lot and makes such a difference to the families we support!”
“Thank you for the amazing support you’ve given our project and many others too!”
“Thank you so, so much for your amazing donation. These books will reach a lot of young children this Christmas!”