Chief executive David Hicks explains the work and value of the industry’s charity
The Book Trade Charity (BTBS)
is the welfare charity of the book trade. Founded more than 180 years ago, we have provided housing for members of the trade since 1845 at our base in Kings Langley in Hertfordshire—originally for retirement living, but developed over the last 20 years into housing for people of all ages, many of them still working.
Our charity also offers direct financial assistance, by way of grants—both regular monthly payments, and one-offs—to support colleagues, whether they are working, retired or unemployed. It helps them face challenges met in the middle or latter stages of their careers which may be related to health, disability, carer-situations, redundancy, debt and poverty. Recent examples of our support include:
•Deposits and initial rent for applicants needing to move into a new flat
•Furniture and white goods
•Travel costs for someone needing to visit a terminally ill parent
•Contributions to the running of a car where there is a lack of public transport
•Contributions to house adaptations, mobility scooters and aids
•Cost of school uniforms
•Funding of respite holidays
•Re-training courses for people made redundant from their jobs
•Support for career guidance and advice
•Funeral costs and other debts.
This work continues, and develops, as more people in difficult personal circumstances find their way to us. We now support about 80 people a year through monthly grants, and more than 100 with one-off grants.
Recent developments in the charity have allowed us to add on a range of services specifically aimed at younger people, as it was clear that this would be a good way to benefit the industry that supports us. Earlier this year we started providing affordable housing for young people entering the trade, in first jobs or on long-term internships, particularly but not exclusively in publishing, at our new project in Whetstone, North London. The three one-bed flats and six bedsits that we were able to offer were filled within weeks, and we are now looking to develop this site over the next couple of years to provide accommodation for another 12 to 18 people.
We have also launched a project offering financial support to young people, particularly from ‘non-traditional’ backgrounds, who are taking up internships, beyond London as well as in it. The support tops up the amount employers can pay to make the placement affordable, and is concentrated on UK nationals who come from backgrounds that leave them financially challenged, or who live distant from London or who are possibly marginalised. Helping these diverse candidates to enter the trade can only enrich publishing, and it supports recent efforts by many publishers to make the industry more accessible.
Similarly, we have initiated a project called ‘Entry Into The Book Trade’ to assist with interview and other costs like travel, subsistence, accommodation and appropriate clothing. It responds to some of the challenges commonly identified by applicants as barriers to possible future careers in the industry. One applicant, who had to travel from Scotland for interviews, was supported with four travel grants, and just as we were getting concerned about whether this was reaching our limit for assistance, she obtained a job with a publisher—and took up a newly vacant bedsit on a year’s tenancy!
While we are sure she will be an asset to the trade, we hope that she, and all others like her, will remember the support of our charity in helping fulfil her dreams and, when she achieves a significant level in the industry, will in turn support those who seek to benefit from our work in the future.
For more about The Book Trade Charity, visit its website or email chief executive David Hicks or grants and housing manager Glenda Barnard. New or potential entrants to the trade can find details of the charity’s support here.