Engagement outside Bloomsbury

Our Communities

Making a positive contribution to the communities in which we operate, and to society generally, is central to Bloomsbury’s mission and purpose. During 2022/2023, the Group continued to provide support for charities and community organisations through financial support, in-kind donations and publishing partnerships. The Group made cash donations of £366,279 and donations of books with a wholesale value of £1,860,198.

Charitable giving

Humanitarian causes

During the year, Bloomsbury UK provided financial support to humanitarian appeals and charitable causes across the globe, including:

  • £25,000 to the Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, helping people affected by the conflict in Ukraine, and refugees in neighbouring countries.
  • £10,000 to the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in connection with its Afghanistan appeal, providing life-saving support to families displaced from their homes by the most recent wave of conflict in Afghanistan.
  • £25,000 to the UNHCR’s Turkey and Syria appeal to support the Agency’s efforts to provide emergency relief to people affected by the devastating earthquakes which struck both Turkey and Syria in February 2023.
  • £25,000 to Médecins Sans Frontières, an international, independent medical humanitarian organisation providing medical assistance to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters, or exclusion from healthcare.
  • £50,000 to Bloomsbury author Tom Kerridge’s “Full Time” campaign, an initiative run in partnership with footballer Marcus Rashford to combat child food poverty in the UK.
  • £50,000 to Women for Women International, a non-governmental organisation established during the Bosnian War, which helps women survivors of war rebuild their lives through programmes directed at building women’s capabilities in four key areas: earning and savings; rights and decision making; health and wellness; and fostering support networks.
  • £6,000 to Save the Children, the international organisation dedicated to supporting children around the world transform their lives and reach their full potential by providing live-saving short-term help and pushing for deep-rooted social change.
  • £1,000 to the Alsama Project, which supports children in refugee camps in Syria and Lebanon by teaching them how to play cricket.
  • £5,000 to The Book Trade Charity, which was established to support colleagues across the book trade and their families, providing grants and housing when they need it most.

Bloomsbury India continued its support of local community organisations by making donations to four charities supporting vulnerable, marginalised and deprived groups: The Prayas Juvenile Aid Centre Society, a community-based non-profit service, which supports marginalised and vulnerable groups including women, youth and homeless people (£3,000); the Mijwan Welfare Society, which supports the development of equitable and sustainable communities across rural India by equipping rural citizens with the tools to catalyse change within their own communities (£3,000); the Akshaya Patra Foundation, which strives to eliminate classroom hunger by serving nutritious food to disadvantaged children studying in Government schools and Government-aided schools across India (£2,000); and the Salaam Baalak Trust, which provides care and protection to street children through child-centric programmes (£2,000).

Bloomsbury has also continued to contribute a portion of its proceeds from sales of the Dishoom cookbook by Kavi Thakrar, Naved Masir and Shamil Thakrar to charities providing healthy school meals to hungry and malnourished children in disadvantaged areas of the UK and India, donating the sum of £3,949 to each of the Akshaya Patra Foundation in India and Magic Breakfast in the UK during the year.

Promoting literacy and education and supporting creators and colleagues

During the year, Bloomsbury also continued to support initiatives aligned with its mission and purpose by making financial and in-kind contributions to organisations working to increase access to books and education and enrich lives through reading and literacy, and to initiatives aimed at supporting authors and illustrators from diverse backgrounds.

Bloomsbury’s ongoing partnership with the National Literacy Trust (“NLT”) saw a continuation of our support of the NLT’s work to give children and young people from disadvantaged communities the literacy skills to succeed in life. This included a £50,000 cash donation and the donation of 1,000 books with a wholesale value of £32,475. See pages 77 and 79 for more information on our partnership with the NLT.

In Australia, Bloomsbury continued its support of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) with a donation of £3,388. The ILF works to address the educational disadvantages faced by indigenous Australian children and young people in remote Communities across Australia. Donations of £3,105 and £3,388 were made respectively to Story Factory, a creative writing centre for underprivileged young people, and The Smith Family’s Literacy and Learning for Life educational programmes, which provide emotional, practical and financial support as well as books and resources to support disadvantaged children and young people with their literacy and education.

As part of our ongoing relationship with The Black Writers’ Guild in the UK, we donated £10,000 in support of the Guild’s work to tackle the underrepresentation of Black authors and publishing professionals within the publishing industry.

During 2022/2023, Bloomsbury sponsored The Rock Retreat Gibraltar, a non-profit creative residency for emerging writers and artists focused on books for young readers with a contribution of £1,000. The aim of the Rock Retreat is to equip participants with the motivation, skills, information and networks that they might otherwise not have the opportunity to develop or gain access to. Through the support of sponsors, The Rock Retreat is able to offer fully funded places to attend this career-building retreat. Bloomsbury further sponsored the Accord Literary Creative Retreat (ALCR) in Accra, a collaboration between The Rock Retreat and Accord Literary, a Ghana-based literary agency that aims to mentor, develop and encourage writers based in Africa writing books for young readers, with a contribution of £2,500. Through sponsorship, the ALCR was able to offer fully sponsored places to creators from sub-Saharan Africa.

Bloomsbury contributed £3,000 in support of OpenBooks, a joint initiative between the Publishers Association, the Booksellers Association and the Association of Authors Agents in the UK targeted at 14–19 year olds from underrepresented backgrounds with the aim of providing insights into, and demystifying, the book industry and publishing career options through free, online events.

Donations of £10,000 were made to each of the Charleston Literary Festival and The London Library. The Charleston Festival provides attendees with the opportunity to engage with books and illuminating ideas through a programme of talks, conversations and performances.

The London Library is one of the world’s leading literary institutions and lending libraries, housing a collection of over one million books, and hosts regular literary events throughout the year as well as an annual Literature Festival. The Library offers an Emerging Writers Programme open to anyone over the age of 16, which provides one year’s free membership of the Library and includes writing development masterclasses, literary networking opportunities, peer support and guidance in use of the Library’s resources. Bloomsbury’s donation has been applied by the Library to support five writers as part of this programme.

We recognise that not everyone in society has equal access to books, and we work with various organisations to reach people and communities who may not otherwise have the means or opportunity to enjoy the benefits which reading brings.

During the year, the Group donated books with a total wholesale value of £1,860,198 to multiple organisations promoting literacy and early education. These include:

  • The SOHO Centre in the US, which promotes children’s literacy, school readiness, and school success by distributing free books to schools, libraries, hospitals and other child-related programs. Through its long-standing partnership with the SOHO Centre, Bloomsbury has donated over 1.8 million books to date to disadvantaged children and their families across Virginia.
  • Book Aid International, which works with partner organisations around the world to share the power of books to help create a more equal future by providing access to free books where they are most needed, in libraries, schools, refugee camps, hospitals, prisons and other institutions around the world.
  • The NLT in connection with its Ukraine Appeal, which was launched in July 2022 to support children and their families arriving from Ukraine through the gifting of books, recognising the impact which storytelling and the power of reading can have on a child, providing comfort when they need it the most.
  • The NLT in support of its ongoing projects to promote literacy within deprived communities.
  • The Children’s Book Project, which works with settings across the UK to redistribute thousands of new and used books donated by organisations and individuals to disadvantaged children and their families.

Defending freedom of speech

Freedom of expression is a prerequisite for a thriving publishing industry, which, in turn, plays an essential role in a democratic, knowledge-based society by promoting diversity of knowledge and ideas and fostering creativity and tolerance. During the year, Bloomsbury donated £12,500 to each of PEN America and the American Civil Liberties Union to support their work in defence of freedom of expression and civil liberties in a time when increasingly polarised views on political and cultural issues are leading to rising assaults on freedom of expression, including attempts to ban books in schools, libraries and bookshops.

Developing partnerships with impact

In addition to providing financial assistance to organisations which promote literature, literacy and education, we provide practical, non-financial assistance. The following examples of our activities in 2022/2023 illustrate the range of Bloomsbury’s support.

Working with the National Literary Trust in Hastings

In 2022/2023, Bloomsbury entered into the fourth year of its partnership with the NLT, continuing with the mission of supporting the NLT in its efforts to overcome literacy challenges facing the residents of Hastings. During our partnership, Bloomsbury has donated over 80,000 books to schools, libraries, food banks and community centres in cooperation with the NLT.

Hastings is characterised by deprivation and intergenerational low literacy. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds in Hastings are less likely to read regularly than their more affluent peers and this is likely caused by children not having enough positive reading experiences.

The focus of activity for Bloomsbury and the NLT is to create a number of experiences to engage children to make reading fun and entraining and improve attitudes towards writing and reading for pleasure. During its partnership with the NLT, Bloomsbury has developed and supported a range of activities including organising author events and creative writing competitions for children, and has donated over 80,000 books to schools, libraries, food banks and community centres in cooperation with the NLT.

World Book Day 2022

In 2022, Bloomsbury Children’s celebrated the 25th anniversary of World Book Day (WBD) with two books in the £1 promotion: The Worst Class in the World in Danger by Joanna Nadin and Rikin Parekh and The Last Word by Ben Bailey Smith. These authors took part in four live digital events and masterclasses, as well as two major multi-school events at Stratford Libraries and Discover Children’s Story Centre. Ben Bailey Smith also appeared on CBBC Book Club answering viewers’ questions.

Bloomsbury Education took part in WBD online giveaways and made five of their Bloomsbury Young Reader audiobooks available for free on the WBD website. Royal Mail unveiled four special post boxes for WBD, three of which featured Bloomsbury books. On top of all this, Bloomsbury Children’s and Education authors reached thousands of school children through WBD events all over the UK.

As the 25th anniversary coincided with the same anniversary for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, each one of the 15.1 million WBD vouchers distributed to schools featured a competition to win a magical family visit to London. The competition was supported by Harry Potter franchise partners including Warner Bros. Studio Tour, the producers of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Harry Potter Photographic Competition, J. K. Rowling Originals and Wizarding World Digital – with a combined reach of over three million.

Guiding the next generation

Bloomsbury’s Children’s and Education teams work with EmpathyLab, the first organisation to build children’s empathy, literacy and social activism through a systematic use of highquality literature. EmpathyLab’s strategy builds on new scientific evidence showing the effectiveness of reading in building real-life empathy skills. Working closely with this charity and our authors, we ensure that our books support this important mission.

Bloomsbury Education also works with the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) to create and promote free online teaching notes for our guided reading series, Bloomsbury Readers. The CLPE is an independent UK charity dedicated to raising the literacy achievement of children.

Partnership publishing

Our Children’s team publishes books in partnership with three leading UK charities whose key focus is nature conservation and wildlife: the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and The Woodland Trust. These partnerships involve the publication of titles by Bloomsbury that support the activities of these charities, and embed their public mission statements into the commercial world of bookselling, reaching far beyond their membership pool with titles across all age groups from three years upwards. We are experts at commissioning high profile authors with excellent credentials to work alongside charities we support.

Bloomsbury’s Non-Consumer Division also publishes in partnership with the RSPB, with the Special Interest division publishing the popular RSPB Spotlight series, including two titles in 2022/2023: RSPB Handbook of Garden Wildlife: 3rd edition and RSPB Pocket Guide to British Birds. The Philip Wilson imprint publishes in association with MK Gallery, The Wallace Collection, The National Trust and The George Daniels Educational Trust.

The charities which Bloomsbury partners with in this way are supported by royalty payments made by Bloomsbury in connection with sales of the relevant books.

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