Sharing our love of books through gifts to foodbanks, school and community libraries
Prospero's Project – Social enterprise
We began Prospero's Project as an offshoot of our award-winning bookshop, Much Ado Books, in 2007.
The project evolved through the years, and grew. In 2018 we dedicated the shop as a ‘Social Enterprise’, dedicating a healthy slice of profits and resources to helping connect people to books.
How DO we raise money?
Most of our money comes from the Christmas stockings we make and sell at Much Ado. We fashion the stockings from old blankets that are too worn to be warm and decorate them with felt, ribbon and other materials.
Designs range from simple Christmas trees and Santas to gorgeous antique buttons and lace. Some stockings are based on designs of book covers, but many are original.
Events and special projects
We hold fundraising events throughout the year and have developed a range of other crafty initiatives such as selling our own sought-after handmade badges.
Gifts and donations
We’re grateful to have received gifts and donations of all shapes and sizes from a wide range of individuals, some who prefer to remain anonymous and some from well-known personalities – for example, the family of Denis Healey gave us boxes of his classical CDs to sell!
The gallery of images here captures some of what we get up to. Click to see them in more detail.
Prospero’s Project has been providing new books for people who need to use foodbanks; supporting a community library; and offering books to a school library;
Since dedicating our shop as a Social Enterprise, we have developed a programme of giving books to foodbanks, where they are shared with anyone who wants to choose one.
We currently work with seven foodbanks, including branches of the Trussell Trust and independently-run foodbanks. Every quarter we work with volunteers to identify what kinds of books seem to be most wanted by clients.
Our focus is on books for people to enjoy, with thrillers proving extremely popular. But we have been providing all kinds of books, including histories, literature, cookery and activity books for adults.
Brighton publisher, Myriad Books, has donated more than 400 volumes for distribution and we hope to involve more publishers as the initiative widens. The books we give are all new, but we use specialist suppliers of remaindered titles to ensure the money raised goes as far as possible.
Whilst proving successful, the program is still in its infancy and we are learning about which kinds of books are most welcome – and the different kinds of clients using foodbanks across Sussex.
But we are hugely encouraged to hear from volunteers that the books are received with great joy!
We also work with a community library founded in Ringmer, extending a generous discount on their purchases and donating books to their growing selection whenever possible.
In 2017 we developed connections with Kings Academy, Ringmer, helping add to their library with gifts of books suggested by students and staff.
HOW YOU CAN HELP?
People often ask how they might be able to help Propsero's Project, and we very much appreciate it!
Besides buying stockings - and spreading the word about our them! – maybe you could help solve our wooly problem - finding enough old blankets!
We always need old, battered wool blankets that are too ragged to serve any more. We can 'felt' them (simply washing them in very hot water, to bind the wool a bit more closely) and then fashion them into the stockings we sell. We like both solid colours and patterns; the main thing is that they are 100% wool.
WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO?
Since 2007 we have given money to a wide range of beneficiaries including local schools, overseas orphanages, care homes, community centres, charities supporting immigrants, local libraries and children’s charities. You can read more about them below. We are passionate about finding ways to help more people discover the pleasures of books and reading.
2018 – We gave more than 3,000 books to foodbanks, schools and community libraries
2016 - £2,400 for schools in Alfriston & Uganda
2015 – £2,500 for East Sussex Libraries and Seahaven Academy
2014 - £3,100 for Ugandan Orphange and Library
2013 - £2,300 for Kids' Company
2012 – £3,848 for Newhaven Community Centre & Panamanian school
2011 – £2,745 for Alfriston Village School Library and the Ministry of Stories
2010 - £1,500 for English in Action
2009 – £300 for cared for children
2008 - £345 for Alfriston Village School; Alfriston Village Pre-School; and a Ugandan school
2007 – £140 for cared for children