Reducing the barriers to literacy in Hastings
The NMSC is part of the consortium delivering the ‘Read Your Way’ project which is working to improve literacy amongst young people in Hastings.
The project is committed to providing 10,000 free books to local children and young people in the town by the end of July 2020. Before lockdown, books were distributed through a range of book corners in the town where children and families could take free books. These book corners are located at strategic locations around the town such as in the local football ground, the town’s museum and community centres. Since lockdown in March, these locations have all been closed.
To overcome this challenge, we have worked with other consortium members to set up a book delivery service which delivers books to family homes in the town whilst observing all social distancing rules. Following an online request for books from families, volunteers select a range of suitable titles and arrange a delivery within a couple of days. Since opening the service in April, we have delivered around 1,500 books to children in over 250 families.
From a behaviour change perspective, we are following this change in approach with great interest. One of the great mantras of social marketing is 'reduce the barriers' which are preventing young people from reading; surely by taking the books to the families, rather than expecting them to collect them from another place, we are doing this?
On the other hand, by providing a completely free resource which requires no time investment by families to collect them, are we reducing the perceived value of the books to families and more of them are likely to lie unread?
Only time and a careful evaluation of the project will give us the answer.