Friday, 9 August 2013

It's hard to believe this blog hasn't been updated since March - so much has been happening.

First there was the Open Day in April which brought lots of new faces in to visit our Team Valley BookSpace. It also brought in Hannah Bayman and her team from the BBC who arrived just as we were about to begin the programme.... they hadn't warned us they were coming so they got a somewhat mixed reception. Eventually a short report was shown at Breakfast time, while we were all watching for it in the evening.  But the Open Day itself was great, with poetry from Pippa Little, Catherine Graham, short stories from Shelley Day Sclater, an auction, a raffle and a fantastic slap-up meal - more about that on the website.

More recently we arranged for Julian Miles from BBC Newcastle to drop in and make an interview. that was a lot of fun and, well, I'm not sure if it's aired yet or not.....

We had a visit from the Gateshead Young Women's Outreach who excelled themselves going through boxes of books in a huge variety of languages - sorting them by language and stamping them - big thanks for that!

The Birtley Hug brought a few visitors over from their coffee morning and we may perhaps have a volunteer or two as a result of that visit.

In June we took part in Gateshead's Volunteers Month, taking stalls at events in Saltwell Park, the Teams Festival and Birtley Festival. Gateshead Council kindly gave us a small grant for promotional materials, so for once we have a good stock of folders.

Also in June we were at Broadacre House in Newcastle each Wednesday to talk with other charities and individuals about what we do, and to introduce our proposal for a literacy project we are calling WordPlay. This is specifically aimed at teenagers whose reading and writing skills are not up to scratch. The key word is PLAY.... to get people over their resistance to reading and writing as being some boring thing you have to do at school and communicate the huge fun of words. We have been particularly struck by the high proportion of people in prison who have very low literacy skills. In our work with the Young Offenders Team we also come across a number of young people who really need help with literacy to avoid a future where they end up becoming another part of the prison statistic.

According to a report published in December 2012, the North East and London have the lowest literacy levels of the whole country, so this seems like a good time to try to do something about this. We are delighted to be able to say that we have just received a letter from the Woodward Charitable Trust saying that they have agreed to make a small grant so that we can run a pilot for WordPlay this autumn.

Again in the autumn we are hoping to find a permanent (as much as such projects are ever permanent) space at Broadacre House for a multilingual library. We have already had a considerable number of people offering to volunteer for the library. Since several of these are people for whom English is a second or third language, we hope to be able to run sessions where these people can practice their English in a pratical work situation.

In our last entry we showed a photo of the library we helped WERS to set up - unfortunately this is closing down this month, but the books are being returned to us and will form the basis of the new multilingual library. We hope that people who enjoyed visiting the library when it was in Arthur's Hill will find their way to the City Centre and continue  being able to enjoy books in their own language.

Saturday 10 August we'll be taking part in the Salvation Army's Community Day, and we'll go loaded down with books. This Salvation Army group has brought us so many useful things - display panels, room separation screens, white boards, an overhead projector which we will use in WordPlay, and many other great things - so losing a day in the midst of what was trying to be a summer holiday is not really a disaster!

For the rest.... there are possibilities of new BookSpaces in a number of places - as always we call on people interested in the project to consider opening a branch near where they live.... It's really not complicated....write and ask if you want to know more.

Also, if you're not already on our Facebook page.... look for the Borderline Books group.