Volunteer starts new chapter for Birmingham charity

Lending library established at SIFA Fireside.

Leading homeless charity, SIFA Fireside, provides services for over 3,000 homeless and vulnerable adults each year, including a daily drop-in service for immediate practical support.

With over 75 active volunteers, the charity is also able to provide many home comforts, from great food, quality clothes, warm showers and a good cuppa.

One volunteer, Andrew Arthur, wanted to add reading a good book to the list, and has set up a lending library project for clients to enjoy. Since the drop-in service reopened in June, Andrew has worked tirelessly, sourcing the right shelving and organising and classifying the books.

Boosted by a generous donation of fifty titles from Acorns Children’s Hospice charity, he explained why he thinks the project is so important: “To me there is nothing better than getting lost in a good book. Reading is great for learning, mental wellbeing and a constructive way to pass time.

“I like having a routine and structure to my day, along with using my time to help others and give something back. Over the years, I’ve experienced hard times and a little kindness from others really does go a long way.

“Once the COVID 19 restrictions have been lifted and we are able to open fully, the books will be available for issue to any clients coming in. I hope it gives others a way to pass time in a positive and enjoyable way.”

Andrew’s project caught the eye of Councillor Sharon Thompson on her recent visit to SIFA Fireside. She said: “For me, we need to do everything that we can to prevent people becoming homeless in the first place. However, when people are in crisis, we need to recognise that the support they need is more than just housing and food.

“For the people who SIFA Fireside help, life can be really difficult and getting a small break from that by reading a book or doing another activity can be priceless for that person’s mental health. It was great to pop in to see the team and meet the wonderful Andrew. He is so passionate about books and this is a really positive project for clients – great work as always.”