NICVA Member Visit to BookTrustNI

14 Feb 2020 Susan Coffey    Last updated: 25 Feb 2020


On 30 January, I visited Liz Canning and her team at BookTrustNI to find out a bit more about the fantastic work they do.

In line with the UK, BookTrustNI aims to ensure that everyone has access to books in the home, to make a positive impact on children, families and communities.

One of the big priorities has been the Bookstart programme, which gifts families book packs through health visitors and parent and baby groups. In March 2015, Government funding was cut for the programme making Northern Ireland the only UK region without a dedicated book gifting scheme. The team of three have since turned that challenge into a positive story, by working hard to finding alternative funding solutions. Thanks to their partnership with Belfast Harbour, they've been able to continue providing book packs, albeit on a smaller scale, and giving priority to SureStart areas.

Developing corporate partnerships with SONI and Belfast International Airport has allowed them to gift books to families across the province, and provide book-sharing activities and events for children by bringing well-known authors into local schools.

BookTrust has already received a Lottery grant through Arts Council NI for children's author tours. This project was then extended to include free books as part of the author visit, allowing pupils to take home personally signed books, to read and share with their family.

The Letterbox Club is another reader development programme that's run in partnership with Fostering Network NI. Through this iniative, they've delivered Letterbox parcels to 250 children in care across Northern Ireland, allowing those children to receive a parcel of books, number games and stationery that's individually addressed to them at their foster home. They'll receive this once a month, for six months.

BookTrustNI have been NICVA members since 2015. When asked about the benefits of being a NICVA member, Liz Canning, Head of Country for BookTrustNI says, "the training, communications and voice for the sector are among our most valued benefits".

Liz, Kathryn and Lucy are hugely passoniate about what they do and have embraced the new funding model, as they continue to reach as many children and homes as practically possible.

To find out more about BookTrustNI, visit their website.'s picture
by Susan Coffey

PA to Chief Executive

[email protected]

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