What We Do

The Trust has supported a number of projects since being set up: 

July 2013:

£15,000 for a new campaign supporting School Libraries. This will be a competition run with the Schools Library Association to provide an injection of funding and expertise to school libraries in need of a makeover. This will be launched in the autumn and will mean one grant of £6,000 and two grants of £3,000 plus consultations with a trained librarian to the schools that demonstrate the most need for help. Watch this website or twitter (@sdowdtrust) for further details in September!

£5,000 to Reading Force, which runs book groups for families in the armed services. This can be linking the kids and their Mum and Dad away on active service through reading the same book. £3,500 is going to support a large group in Plymouth and £1,500 to help set up a new group in North Yorkshire. Crucially, our support means Reading Force can claim match funding, so our £5,000 will bring in another £5,000 from elsewhere.

£5,000 to support book buying at the new Bootle Children’s Book Festival. Their aim is to give every child in Bootle a book of their choice.

In the same area, £1,500 to buy teenage books for a project run by The Reader Organisation for Young Adults in Leasowe Library. 

£2,000 worth of  new books to the Leeds Children’s Charity which runs short residential breaks in Cumbria for disadvantaged kids from Leeds. The list of the problems their children come to them with includes poverty, abuse, neglect, domestic violence and many are also young carers, so they clearly fit the criteria in Siobhan’s will, i.e. ‘spreading the joy of reading to those that need it most’.

£1,000 worth of new books for a primary school in Blaenau, Gwent that approached us for a possible one-off book donation. This is exactly the kind of school that our School Library Competition with the SLA is designed to help, but the Trustees felt the letter from a Volunteer Mum demonstrated exactly the kind of need we should be addressing, so we are putting together a selection of new books to arrive in time for lending during the summer holidays.


May 2013:

£2,000 funding for 10th Anniversary film of Letterbox, the scheme that sends books to children in care. The Siobhan Dowd Trust funded a pilot project  for sending books to teenagers, one of the first grants we ever gave.


January 2013:

Funding for extending Readwell to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Belfast, initially for one year. Readwell is a charity that provides books and storyteller visits to children ill in hospital. Every term over 200 new books arrive in the wards for the use of patients and their siblings.


June 2012:

£850 to Uddington Grammar School in South Lanarkshire for a sighted and blind students reading group.

CLPE’s Book Clubs in schools project £5,440  – CLPE will be providing a 2-3 page brief guide of tips for use once the project has been evaluated.

“Inside Stories”, a prison based project delivered by PACT, the charity that works with prisoners. The trust has funded a pilot project costing £4,550 and £3000 for books. The programme will take place in two male prisons HMP Whealstun in Wetherby and HMP Highdown in Sutton and two female: HMP Styal in Cheshire and HMP Bronzefield, Ashford, Surrey.

Letterbox – £10,000 for a pilot project for Letterbox Orange, for 5-6 year olds.


March 2012:

ReClaim Manchester – £750-£1000 to start teenage book group + £1000 worth of teenage books selected by Danny Hahn for use in the social centre lending library.

February 2012:

The Trust is pleased to support this years Oxfordshire Book Award, which is organised by Primary and Secondary school librarians and voted for entirely by children. The Siobhan Dowd Trust supplied books to increase participation among schools where the need is greatest. The award is in three categories: Best Book (Secondary school category), Best Book (Primary School category) and Best Picture Book (Primary School Category). A Monster Calls is nominated in the Secondary category, but the Trust was careful to supply ALL the books on the shortlist, and it’s the young readers who will be judging…

July 2011:

Lunchboox is a weekly club run in Oxfordshire schools by Bookfeast.Its simple aim is to encourage Year 5 and 6 pupils to enjoy books and talk about them with confidence. Participating schools get support and know-how to start up and run a successful club – expert advice on the practicalities; information and resources about books, authors and related activities; provision of a group leader – or advice on how to recruit one – and an open invitation to attend Bookfeast’s author events and Schools Festival.

Cavan Library Service applied to the Trust for funding to resource the printing of resource packs for use in primary and secondary schools on each of Siobhan’s books. It is part of a hugely ambitious and celebratory project which involves the whole community in looking at and enjoying the work of a single author. Plays, Creative writing, artwork and lectures are all scheduled in a year-long celebration of Siobhan’s work. Cavan is in the Republic of Ireland, but shares a border with Northern Ireland, and is one of Ulster’s nine counties. In september, members of Siobhan’s family were proud to attend the official launch night of “One Cavan, One writer”, along with the Irish Minister for Training and Skills, Mr Ciarán Cannon, TD.

The Trust funded the purchase of books to be given away to 2,000 families participating in “Bookplay” sessions run thoughout Lambeth. Ran by The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE), they are drop in, structured sessions designed to encourage an early love of reading for pre-school children (and their parents or carers). The majority of sessions also have a Southwark library worker on hand to encourage use of the local libraries.


February 2011:

Funding was given to finance the hire of projection equipment for an Anti-cuts / Pro-libraries film: it was shown (as a flash mob) on Feb 2nd on the main entrance to the British Library. The film started as a protest about the closure of the local library in Taunton, but has become a rallying cry against all the threatened closures of libraries in the UK, attracting a large worldwide audience on YouTube, and screened at the TUC rally in Hyde Park in march 2011.


January 2011:

Funding was given to buy books for local schoolchildren to accompany visits by Childrens’ Authors into schools in East London. Part of a bigger festival, The Big Write,  organized by Discover, it features over 65 events and engages more than 2,000 people.


December 2010:

Funding was given to support the work of First Story: their stated aim is to support and inspire creativity in secondary schools. They pay for authors to run weekly after-school creative-writing workshops. At the end of the workshops, a professionally produced anthology is produced and a book launch event is held in each school in celebration. From Sept 2010, there were 23 residencies under way in schools in London, Nottingham and Oxford. The trust grant is to help establish a reading forum/on-line book group supporting the work done in schools by First Story.


July 2010:

The  Siobhan Dowd Trust’s first grant was to Booktrust to launch the pilot programme Letterbox Club Green, aimed at improving the educational outlook for looked-after children in the early years of secondary school. The pilot involves 60 children from 12 local authorities across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The (bright green) parcel‘s contents have been specially developed to suit the needs of 11-13 year olds, and includes a number of specially selected fiction and non-fiction titles plus stationary so the recipients can hopefully get writing themselves.