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Priyanka Mogul, journalist and manager of the International Political Forum has started a campaign – Spread the Word – to give homeless people better access to books and hopes to start up libraries in homeless shelters and day centres across London. The campaign is backed by author Jean Sasson and The London Film Review. She told The Pavement what it’s all about.
What inspired the campaign?
Spread The Word was inspired by a homeless man in my local area. Every morning on my way to university I'd see him sitting outside the tube station, his face always buried in a book. Seeing him so deeply engrossed in what he was reading would always put a smile on my face. It was obvious that these books had given him strength and it was inspiring to see - that's when I decided I wanted to make literature easily accessible to other people just like him."
Why do books matter?
Whether we need an escape from our own world, or whether we need to open our eyes to what's going on around us, books are able to do that for us. They help us relate to people we have never met before – people who might not even be real people – and, in doing so, help us remember that we're not alone in this world, that everyone has a story we can learn from.
What you hope homeless people will get out of it?
All I want from this campaign is for people who might have lost hope to be able to regain it. I'm not naive enough to believe that reading books can end homelessness, but I do think that books can give people inspiration and ideas that can change the way they look at life and, perhaps, those ideas can pave the way for a path out of the situation they have been put in.
What you hope it achieves?
Ever since I launched the campaign I've often been told that those who have been made homeless aren't interested in reading books – "they have bigger problems". I don't believe that's necessarily true but if it is, then I want Spread The Word to open people's eyes to the benefits that can come from a great book.
Watch out for details of any new ‘libraries’ soon as the campaign is hoping to start up in various shelters.