The Free Books Campaign, founded by London Met’s Sofia Akel, will distribute 400 books in collaboration with Marcus Rashford’s Book Club and Macmillan Kids.
Date: 5 July 2021
England footballer, author and anti-child poverty campaigner Marcus Rashford MBE is teaming up with the Free Books Campaign to donate 400 books to youth clubs and community organisations in several of the most deprived areas of the UK and Ireland, in collaboration with his publishers, Macmillan Kids.
The Free Books Campaign was founded by Sofia Akel, Race Equity Lead at London Met’s Centre for Equity and Inclusion in 2020. It is a community-based organisation that gets books by authors of colour to those who can't afford to purchase or have barriers to accessing them across the UK and Ireland.
In less than a year since launching, the campaign has distributed over 1200 brand new books into hundreds of homes, working with schools in low-income boroughs, youth clubs, community centres and charities to ensure they can get even more books to readers of all ages.
Sofia said, "With libraries closing down due to austerity, this could have significant negative impacts on those who rely on invaluable community hubs and resources. No one should be denied the opportunity to read diverse literature, so we are proud to be working towards closing the gap in access.
"I started the campaign for three reasons - to close the gap in access to literature, to get people of all ages reading books by diverse authors and to support authors of colour. Through the campaign, we not only get books to those who can't afford or access them, but we also provide resources and recommendations for those who might be new to reading or who may not know what genres they like yet.
"This gives us the opportunity to platform works by authors of colour as well as purchasing their books for our recipients. It's really important to me that each step of the campaign has community at its heart and I'm proud that we're achieving this."
"Collaborating with Marcus Rashford's Book Club and Macmillan is a dream and such an honour. Marcus has relentlessly campaigned and lobbied for those most in need and most affected by austerity and socio-economic disparities - from free school meals to increasing access to literature.
"The values that underpin both the Book Club and the Free Books Campaign are closely aligned and we are so proud to be supporting his mission - to get books to young people across the UK. Together, Marcus' Book Club and Macmillan Children's will be donating 50,000 books to schools! We are excited to be joining them in collaboration to get over 400 books to vital youth services across the UK and Ireland - all generously donated by Macmillan."
On launching his Book Club in April this year, Marcus Rashford said, "For too long, the joy of reading has been restricted by whether or not a family has the contingency budget to purchase books.
"The children who often miss out are those on free school meals and users of breakfast clubs, who more than likely need fiction, and non-fiction, to escape reality from time to time.
"We haven't been affording these children the option of reading for fun, but that changes today.
"Everyone is aware of my experiences with breakfast club - it brightened up the start of my day, it stabilised the school day for me, allowed me to engage in reading and allowed me to form life-long friendships."