Wednesday, 8 February 2017


We have contact with all kinds of groups supporting people in all kinds of difficult situations. It's not often that we get feedback, but after putting out a request for 'soundbites' we have been delighted to see how much difference the books really make in people's lives.

This post reflects the experiences of organizations working with offenders, ex-offenders, people with mental health issues, and people with dementia.

"A guy was arrested by 24/7 officers for a domestic related assault to his partner, when he arrived into custody he was very aggressive, the custody sergeant explained if he calmed down there was reading material he would be welcome to use. The detainee quickly calmed down and became fully compliant. He said that reading helped him calm down and occupied his mind whilst in custody. The sergeant who authorised his detention said it made such a difference and the detainee caused little to no issues.

"A woman who was arrested for her first offence arrived in custody, she was quite anxious and very unsure what was going to happen. The custody staff offered her reading material to put her at ease, when she left the woman commented that although she would never want to be in custody again the books helped her calm down."

Chief Inspector Lisa Hogan, Northumbria Police

Haven was set up 30 years ago working in conjunction with the probation service in order to support offenders upon release from custodial sentences. Latterly Haven offers semi supported disbursed housing for anyone with a support need from 17 years old with no upper age limit. Haven have 60 bedspaces within Newcastle/Gateshead (which includes 5 emergency bed spaces), a Residents Club which is also open to ex-residents in order to offer support after move on to appropriate tenancies eg Tyne & Wear Homes/private landlords scheme/housing associations etc to conquer isolation. Haven operate a Job Club where residents can access voluntary work/paid employment/training opportunities etc. making sure they are job ready for move on. Haven offer monthly outing to our residents/ex-residents in order to open their eyes to culture, museums/theatre and amongst these outings is Borderline Books which is an invaluable addition to Haven and has resulted in residents using reference books to support their college/university courses, as well as recreational reading for pleasure. We have set up a small library in Haven office where residents/ex-residents bring back their read books and these are recycled for future resident’s pleasure. We have had a longstanding partnership with Borderline Books which has been an invaluable service and we remain extremely grateful to Amina and her team for the support over the years in welcoming our residents.

Pauline Houghton, Operations Manager, Haven Tyneside Ltd

The Storybook Cafe is a mental health cafe, providing a safe space for people to come and relax, chat or do something that helps them have better mental health. One of the things we provide is books for people to read in the cafe or borrow and take home. Books have been important to me as they have helped improve my mental health by providing escapism into an entirely different world. This has helped me to have a break from my own issues, but it has also provided some comfort in the experiences and feelings of the characters I read about who feel similar to me. Borderline books has provided 242 books for free, allowing more people the chance to find some refuge and empathy in the pages that they can carry round with them. To have access to such a big range of genres and narratives means there is more chance for everyone to find something to help them.

Thank you so much,   Amy and the Storybook Cafe   


“We were reminiscing over the books Shirley used to read as a child as she searched the bookcase for something to read. Shirley was extremely happy when she came across a book, ‘Alice in Wonderland’, which she remembered her father reading to her as a child!”
Small moments this are so significant in a person’s life when suffering with dementia as the feelings that these memories evoke can give a sense of calm and safety in an otherwise terrifying and confusing world.
-          Carer at Sheraton Court, Helen McArdle Care