On Tuesday 21 March, Book Aid International was joined by our patron, His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and many of our long-term supporters at St James’s Palace for an evening celebrating the power of books to change lives.
In this blog, our Director, Alison Tweed, reflects on what the evening meant for Book Aid International.
Last night, we were honoured to welcome over 150 of our supporters at a reception hosted by His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh at St James’s Palace celebrating the power of books to change lives. His Royal Highness has been our Patron since 1966 and has seen our work grow from its early days as the Ranfurly Library Service to the organisation we are today and we are most grateful for his support.
It is always wonderful to gather our supporters so that we can thank them for all they do. The group that joined us for the evening was diverse, but everyone was united by a shared love of books and reading. Books have profoundly shaped our own experiences from the earliest age and we all know how much books have the potential to influence, improve and impact our lives.
We were last at St James’s Palace in 2014 to mark our 60th anniversary. Since that time, much has changed. The Sustainable Development Goals have been launched, highlighting the importance of inclusive and quality education as the key to a more equitable future for all, and the availability of books and learning resources has been highlighted as a critical part of ensuring that everyone receives the education they need.
The world is also facing new challenges. People are on the move, sometimes in desperate circumstances, and millions of children worldwide still leave school without the basic literacy and numeracy skills they need to build a better future.
At Book Aid International, much of our work already responds to these changing needs. Our Children’s Corners programme helps create an environment in which early literacy can thrive, we provide many thousands of books to schools every year and our support of public libraries helps give millions of people access to books who might otherwise have few opportunities to read.
However, we recognise that our work must evolve alongside the changing world in which we operate. So, last night, we launched our new vision for 2020. As we continue to work with our existing partners, we will also seek to renew our commitment to ensuring our books reach those who face the greatest barriers to reading. We will reach out to people who have been displaced by conflict or living in fragile states, who live in remote or particularly deprived communities, frontline medical workers providing vital services for their communities and people excluded from the mainstream by disability and discrimination.
It is an ambitious vision which will see us working in new communities without sacrificing our current partners and beneficiaries. We will certainly face challenges but we know that, working together, we can make our vision a reality. We will shortly publish a full strategy document outlining our vision for 2020.
I would like to personally thank all those who attended last night’s event for the warm reception you gave our new vision as well as all of those who support our work. We hope that you will join us as we begin to realise our vision for 2020 and take the next step toward creating a world where everyone has access to the books they need.