5th July 2016:
Working with DoubleTree by Hilton and the School of Life to explore the ripple effect of kindness – here’s my blog post.
20th June 2016… Refuge for Books is BACK!
In 2015 I collected over 1400 books to donate to the shelters run by Refuge, the domestic violence charity. Your kindness was humbling and inspiring. So I’m back, asking for more. Send me your book for a woman or a child, in new or as good-as-new condition, to PO Box 72287, London SW1P 9LA
Refuge for Books: the scheme
In 2014 I set up The Kindness Club, to prompt random acts of kindness in the UK. Since then I’ve worked with a prison, TFL, schools and MPs, formulating opportunities for kindness.
Under this umbrella, in June 2015 I set up Refuge for Books. This came about when I was de-cluttering the house. I planned to take any books to the nearest charity shop. A refuge for my books. And then it occurred to me. Refuge is the national domestic violence charity. Among many services, the charity provides shelter to women and children fleeing domestic abuse, supporting more than 3000 women and children on any given day. As a result, it saves and changes lives.
Tackling domestic violence is a cause dear to my heart. One of my novels Invisible Threads (see Books page) is my love letter to Delhi, and was informed partly by the work I do for a charity in Delhi rescuing women from brothels. What if I helped women in the UK, by donating books?
The women and kids sheltered by Refuge have had their lives ripped apart. They’re desperate for safety and compassion. They crave normality, the kind of normality that comes from dipping into a novel. They also crave escape, not just from their current predicament, but by escaping into their head.
Books are magical, wondrous things to many of us, but to the women and children sheltered by Refuge, such precious objects could mean the difference between despair and hope.
Plus, books look attractive on shelves. So far, donations have created libraries in 3 refuges in London.
So this is where you come in. Please donate a book in new, or as good-as-new condition to my Refuge for Books, to the PO Box at the end of this piece and I’ll make sure it becomes part of the library at the Refuge shelter. Please don’t send them to Refuge direct – they don’t have the space. And because the locations of the shelters remain confidential, Refuge will collect the donated books from my PO Box.
What type of books?
The kids need colourful, stimulating, non-violent books. The women are voracious readers of all genres, eager to try a whole range of books such as thrillers, romance or stories about women’s journeys and experiences.
So send me a book you adore, with love. The women being sheltered by Refuge have often arrived there with nothing. Donate a copy of your favourite book and, who knows, it just might become someone else’s favourite too.
Because here’s the thing. Sending me a book will take you no time at all – and then you can go back to your day, to the life you’ve created for yourself. But by donating a book you’ll be showing kindness to someone who, because of domestic abuse, can’t go back to the life they once had, the life they imagined would last, the life they might even still on some level crave.
Just as you’d wish for yourself, women in such situations long for not judgement but understanding. So please, will you be so kind as to send me a book.
Where to send your book
Please send books in new or as good-as-new condition to: PO Box 72287, London SW1P 9LA
The Kindness Club:
There are not enough random acts of kindness in the world.
Yet kindness is a virtue, an action which inspires and maintains healthy relationships. People feel supported when someone is kind to them, even if only for a moment. And out of feeling supported, we can feel confident and positive – about ourselves and about the world. Feeling confident gives us fresh energy to make more of our lives and of the world.
So, one random act of kindness has the potential to change the world. And you can do it. For free. NOW!
We’re talking to schools and other national institutions about creating opportunities for more random acts of kindness.