How our festive book packs are spreading joy to children in South Wales
Published on: 14 December 2022
We spoke to Heather Thomas, Project Officer for Fareshare Cymru, and Hannah Cogbill, Community Manager for Big Bocs Bwyd, about how BookTrust’s festive book gifts brought joy to families in need across South Wales.
Fareshare Cymru works with more than 180 charities and community groups across South Wales who support low-income families and those who are struggling to access food.
Spreading joy far and wide
“Last year, we went out to the charities in our network and said: “Look, we've had this offer of books from BookTrust. Would you like some?” And there were such positive responses. So many of them said: “This is so fantastic, how special to be able to offer books to families.”
“The reaction to the books is the same as when we have things like posh chocolates and Easter eggs to give out. People just don’t expect to receive things like high quality books. Everyone is just so excited see them, because they feel special, they’re unexpected treats.
“One of the community groups we work with runs a mobile pantry. They told me how overjoyed people were when they were able to pick up a book.
These families may not have the money or the opportunity to access books in another way, so being able to access them through their local pantry was beneficial for them.”
Getting books to wherever they’re needed most
Big Bocs Bwyd is a community project that works with schools and their surrounding communities. Operating out of 67 repurposed shipping containers across Wales, the organisation offers local families services and support including pay-as-you-feel food shops, and health, nutrition education and cooking educational experiences.
FareShare Cymru delivered ten boxes of BookTrust festive book packs to Big Bocs Bwyd in December 2021. These were gifted to 300 families in Wales.
Hannah Cogbill, Community Manager for Big Bocs Bwyd says:
“The books were available for families to take along with other items and food. It was a little like it was Christmas, I think, for them to arrive and see something that’s not a tin of beans, but a present for the children. It was just magical to be spreading that joy.
“Children were really excited to see the BookTrust books as part of our offering. You could hear kids saying things like: “I can read! I’m going to read this book!” Some family members were also saying: “We can read a bedtime story tonight,” which was really heartwarming.
The gift of hope
“We can't tell the people we support that everything’s going to be ok, but what we can do is give them that little bit of hope,” says Hannah.“We can spread a little bit of happiness and make them not have to make a decision between buying their child a Christmas present and having to buy food for the home.”
“We’re really grateful to BookTrust for providing that opportunity for us to be able to make a child’s day and see a perfect smile on their face.”