Streetreads charity launches first appeal for funds to gift books to rough sleepers


By Bill Heaney

THE Streetreads project, which provides free books and connects with people experiencing homelessness through stories, is appealing for funds to help more people recover from life on the streets this winter, and beyond.

This Christmas, Streetreads aims to open up worlds of mystery and history, romance and poetry, travel and adventure with the gift of books which will offer 500 readers some escape from the harsh realities of homelessness.

The appeal will raise money to support the scheme and extend Streetreads’ services.

Hugh Hill, director of Services and Development at Simon Community Scotland, which hosts Streetreads, said: “Booklovers will recognise the thrill of settling down with a new book for a good read, especially at Christmas. We’re asking for public support to bring a little of the same light and luxury into the lives of people affected by homelessness.”

Simon Community Scotland street teams and volunteers will personally deliver gift-wrapped books with personal messages of hope to readers on the street and in temporary accommodation in Edinburgh and Glasgow in time for Christmas.

Gifts will include 300 copies of the 2020 Booker Prize-winning novel, Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stuart.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and crime writer Ian Rankin.

Widely acclaimed as the ‘book of the year’ and ‘essential reading’, Shuggie Bain was also the top pick of Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who is a supporter of Streetreads. Douglas Stuart joins fellow authors, Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Kerry Hudson, in supporting Streetreads.

Hugh Hill said: “We asked our teams and service users which books they would wish for and Shuggie Bain came top of the list. It is a story of a tough life, love and compassion which will resonate with many.

“We never dreamed we would have so many copies for our first ‘Give the Gift of Books Christmas Appeal’, and we are enormously grateful to Pan Macmillan and Douglas Stuart for their generosity.”

Sara Lloyd, Pan Macmillan’s Digital and Communications director said: “We are pleased to be able to partner with Streetreads to gift 300 copies of Douglas Stuart’s Booker-winning Shuggie Bain this Christmas to those who are homeless and in need.

“Many of the people Streetreads supports have experienced past trauma and their homelessness is a consequence of a lifetime that has been impacted and influenced by their experiences.

Douglas Stuart (right), the book cover for Shuggie Bain and Booker Prize entries.

“Shuggie Bain can speak to so many by reflecting a lived experience that is not often enough represented in books, and ultimately offer some hope. We are very grateful to Streetreads who not only provide support and accommodation to those on the streets but also help them to open up new horizons through books and reading, and we hope that the gift of Shuggie Bain and his story will help them in their vital outreach.”

Streetreads has also sourced over 200 new copies of titles specially requested by their service users.

Hugh explained: “Like all of Simon Community Scotland’s services, Streetreads is personal and tailored.  We work closely with people on the street and in hostels to find out what interests them, what they want to read and what book format works best for them – written or audio, in English or in another language.

“We are asking for financial support, rather than gifts in kind, because it means we can source and deliver exactly what is wanted and needed. Simon Community Scotland supports up to 6,000 people at risk of, or experiencing homelessness, every year. With public support for our first Streetreads appeal we will use the power of books to connect with and transform more people’s lives.”

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