Scottish Book Trust Shortlisted for 2017 Charity Times Award

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Category: Press Releases

Scottish Book Trust has been announced as a finalist at the Charity Times Awards for a pioneering programme supporting children’s reading in a deprived community through a major local employer.

Scottish Book Trust and Scottish Gas partnered on the project to support primary school pupils in West Pilton, an area of Edinburgh affected by social and economic deprivation. The programme set out to develop pupils’ confidence and skills in reading and writing through a storytelling residency in 2016. It has now been shortlisted in the ‘Corporate Community Local Involvement’, alongside six other charities, at the Charity Times Awards.

The Charity Times Awards celebrate best practice in the UK charity and not-for-profit sector. Now in their 18th year, the Awards are run by Charity Times magazine. This year’s winners will be announced at the Charity Times Awards Gala Dinner & Ceremony on 4 October 2017 at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, London.

In 2015, Scottish Gas approached Scottish Book Trust for expertise in developing a literacy project at Craigroyston Primary School in Edinburgh. Located in one of the most socially and economically deprived areas of Edinburgh, literacy levels are low, with many young people moving on to secondary school unable to read fluently. The teaching staff wanted a project that would raise their younger pupils’ interest in reading picture books, boost their vocabulary and their willingness to speak in class.

Craigroyston Primary School decided Primary 2 would take part and chose Mara Menzies, an Edinburgh storyteller specialising in traditional Kenyan stories. Mara used the power of stories to improve the listening, creativity, storytelling and confidence of the children.

Helen Cameron, Class Teacher and Literacy Coordinator at Craigroyston Primary, said:

“Pupils have responded with enthusiasm to the sessions, coming away from them bursting with new ideas and new words and a shared experience to talk about. Parents have been able to come along, interact with their children and the storyteller, and share their thoughts and ideas.”

Scottish Gas is a major employer in West Pilton, Edinburgh, where the school is located, and wanted to support the local community in which it operates by improving the employability and life chances of the children there. In addition to funding the project, staff from Scottish Gas volunteered to read to the children on a one-to-one basis each week to foster a reading culture.

William Herd, Recruitment Manager and staff volunteer at Scottish Gas, said:

“I have volunteered with Craigroyston Primary for the past three years. During the project with Scottish Book Trust I was amazed by the passion and creativity it generated among the children following sessions with Mara.”

Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said:

“This project in Edinburgh has been a success for the school, the community and Scottish Gas and we are delighted that it has been shortlisted for this award. It’s wonderful to see a big local employer support people in a community which faces challenges and the outcomes for those taking part have been very positive on both sides.”




Notes to editors:

Scottish Book Trust:

Scottish Book Trust is a national charity changing lives through reading and writing. We believe books have the power to transform lives, and we inspire and support the people of Scotland to read and write for pleasure. Our programmes and outreach work include

  • Giving free books to every child in Scotland to ensure families of all backgrounds can share the joy of books at home.
  • Working with teachers to inspire children to develop a love of reading, creating innovative classrooms activities, book awards and author events.
  • Supporting Scotland’s diverse writing community with our training, awards and writing opportunities.
  • Funding a range of author events for the public to enjoy and promote Scottish writing to people worldwide.   @scottishbktrust


Scottish Gas:

Scottish Gas (part of British Gas) is the largest UK energy and home services company. They supply gas and electricity, boilers and boiler cover as well as other home services.


About the Partnership:

Children from deprived areas are much less likely to go on to higher education, have fewer opportunities and are likely to earn less over the course of their lives.

Scottish Book Trust believes that starting early is the key to tackling literacy issues, and supporting children to develop a lifelong love of reading can help to break the cycle of poverty and improve their life chances.


The Charity Times Awards:

The Charity Times Awards continue to be the pre-eminent celebration of best practice in the UK charity and not-for-profit sector. The awards are free to enter and open to any UK-based registered charity, or international charity with registered UK offices. Now in their 18th year the awards are run by Charity Times Magazine, the leading title for UK non-profit professionals.  @CharityTAwards   #CharityTimesAwards