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A shared ambition

Heidi Mulvey is Head of Community Engagement at Cambridge University Press & Assessment, which reaches millions of learners, teachers and researchers every year with its books, journals, and educational assessment products and services. Here, she reflects on a long partnership, sustained by shared ambitions for enabling people to pursue their potential. 

Our relationship with Book Aid International began some thirty years ago. Like many other publishers, we value the opportunity to donate books to schools and libraries in need. Book Aid International’s relationships with local partners means that books are carefully selected and sent exactly where they’re needed. It’s our ambition to help people pursue their potential through education and research, and the work that Book Aid International does to enable the training of teachers and librarians and promote reading for everyone helps us to achieve this ambition together. 

Our charity partner programme focuses on educational organisations that operate in parts of the world where we have a colleague presence and that afford opportunities for our people to volunteer their support. Every two years, we invite our colleagues to choose new charity partners. In 2022, they chose Book Aid International. Although we had been working together already for many years, the formal adoption of Book Aid International as a charity partner meant we could build on our existing collaboration to create an even greater positive impact. 

A group of African children with Books to Go bags of books.
Children from Warazo Primary School, Kenya with Books to Go book bags.

Charity partners receive a donation each year and also benefit from colleague fundraising, which we match. This financial support has enabled Book Aid International to fund the Books To Go project in Warazo Primary School in Nyeri County, Kenya, which has set up a lending library with 2000 storybooks, readers and chapter books, provided 200 book bags that children can take home, funded teacher training, and made a grant to buy books locally. Book Aid International selected Warazo as a suitable school for the project following informed recommendations by partners in the region. 

Teachers and children at Warazo Primary told us about the difference this has made to them. Before the school library was set up, children had to walk nine hot kilometres to the nearest public library in Munya. Imogen Poole, our regional Sales & Marketing Director, talked to the librarian at Warazo Primary about the training she’d received on book cataloguing and helping children choose titles for their reading level.

It was fantastic to see how the project helps continue the development of library management skills and encourages the strong reading culture in Warazo. 

Imogen Poole, Regional Sales & Marketing Director, CUPA

Although we’d normally choose new charity partners every two years, we’ve decided to continue with Book Aid International and Books to Go until 2026, to give the project more time to make its impact felt within the local community. The teachers are thriving from their training and the children are enjoying having better access to books and being able to take them home. It feels right to continue supporting this work. 

It’s also lovely that we’re able to work together here in the UK. Simon Mercer visited our warehouse recently to talk to our Operations colleagues about his amazing 40-year career in Ops. We’re thrilled that ten colleagues recently paid a return visit to help out at Book Aid International’s Camberwell warehouse. As well as being a fantastic way for them to understand better how Book Aid International operates, it’s also a great teambuilding opportunity. We expect more colleagues to volunteer in this way in the coming months. 

This deepening of our relationship has made all the difference. Giving books is clearly key, but committing to the Books to Go project and encouraging our people to get personally involved has meant that we understand so much better how Book Aid International’s work changes lives. It’s through partnerships like this one that we’re able to realise our shared ambition to help people reach their potential. 


Heidi Mulvey joined us for our London Book Fair 2024 Focus Theatre panel, Chaired by our President Nigel Newton – Celebrating 70 years of Sharing the Power of Books

Please see our London Book Fair 2024 blog to find out more about us as joint Charity of the Year.

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