Giving away books to homeless readers because stories connect us all!
“Books can transport us anywhere, to times and worlds that excite and stimulate. That’s hugely important, no matter who you are or what your circumstances.”
– Ian Rankin
We work with people who have often had very difficult journeys. Homelessness is a consequence of a really hard life – every day we work alongside people to change that. Wherever we can we want to bring positive change, however big or small and stories are a great way to bring an escape from the realities of trauma and homelessness. They can also help us connect, recover and heal.
Become a Friend of Streetreads and help support this work! More details below – or visit our Friends page to learn more about what’s involved and to sign up.
Streetreads is more than books
We run literacy classes and events at our Hub on Holyrood Road, helping people to connect with their world.
We have storytelling events where people can engage and immerse themselves in stories, create their own or just lose themselves in another world.
We invite authors, speakers and super talented people to share their journey, their inspiration and their optimism with others.
We provide audio books and the tech for people to listen to them.
We offer reading glasses to those who need them.
And yes, we deliver books directly to people on the streets of Edinburgh. We also visit centres people go to and we bring books to places where people meet. We match what we offer to what people are interested in and want to read.
Giving books people want to read
Like all our work, Streetreads offers a really tailored service. We work closely with people on the street and in hostels to find out what interests them, what they want to read and what book format works best for them – written or audio. This means we purchase exactly what is wanted and needed – the books we provide are new. More than a book, it is a personally tailored gift. We do provide some ‘take and share’ bookshelves in different locations where donated books can be picked up easily, but we don’t have much space – so we can’t accept many book donations.
Where did Streetreads come from?
Streetreads was the idea and project of a remarkable woman Rachel Cowan, known around Edinburgh as the book wumman #bookwumman. Rachel knows what it’s like to be homeless and the devastating impact that has, her desire to change that for others inspired her to use books to bring more than solace but adventure, excitement, daring, mystery, romance and thrills into a life with a darker kind of drama. Rachel and Streetwork came together in 2018 with a desire to reach further and make more connections.
Where to find free books
We currently provide free books at the following locations:
Streetwork Holyrood Hub, Holyrood Road
Streetwork on South Bridge
Soul Food at St Paul’s & St George’s Church
Soul Food at Mustard seed St Margaret’s Church
Super Saturday at Old St Paul’s Church hall
Broomhouse COSS One Stop Shop
Edinburgh NW Foodbank
Bethany creative writing group
Edinburgh Access Practice
Cunningham House Hostel
Safe Haven Leith
Opening times vary, contact Streetwork for more info.
We’d love your support
There are so many ways you can support readers who are homeless and our Streetreads project! You could volunteer, fundraise, chat to people, share and promote the work, become an Ambassador, run an event… and so much more! More details below.
Volunteer: some time with us making Streetreads a reality!
We need people who can give their time and talents to help us: catalogue, order and manage stock, connect with homeless people about stories and what they want and need, distribute books with the Street Team, manage bookcase outposts, help to raise awareness, share the impact of the project, fundraise and connect with supporters. If you’re interested please contact our volunteer coordinator Louise by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fundraise: generate and give cash support
We need money to purchase new books, manage our database, provide literacy classes, pay volunteering expenses, purchase reading glasses, audio books and the tech to listen to them, and to run workshops and creative events for people to create their own stories or share their reality with others. You can donate today via Just Giving – or visit our fundraising page for ideas for raising money to support Streetreads.
Speak to people, promote and share our work
Chat to people on the street about books: share stories you enjoy, find out what others are reading, tell people about Streetreads. Use social media to promote our work and help us find volunteers.
Become an Ambassador or a Friend of Streetreads
Even from a distance you can support the project through your own networks and social media, running events to promote the project and offering skills and talent that can make a difference. We’re looking to connect with storytellers, writers, publishers, profile raisers, optometrists, educators, creative thinkers – the sky’s the limit! Sign up today to become a Friend of Streetreads. We’d love to hear from you, please get in touch if you would like to help.
Run a workshop, event or pop in to chat
Do you have an idea for story-related workshop? Do you have a story to share? Could you help us gather book reviews from our readers? Could you do something creative or simply come along and chat? We love doing things a little differently and offering new experiences to people on the street. Get in touch if you have an idea we could explore together.
We are so grateful to people who give their support and encouragement to Streetreads, including:
- Ian Rankin – author
- Better World Books @BWBooks
- The Skinny Magazine @theskinnymag
- Lighthouse Bookshop @Lighthousebks
- Nicola Sturgeon – Scotland’s First Minister