Paying it forward : The solidarity of readers

Posted by Mairi Oliver on

Wandering down Leith Walk recently I witnessed a small, simple act of kindness, someone offering a stranger a helping hand. It put a smile on my face, and my partner piped up ‘that person shops at Lighthouse’.

And it felt true, kindness is the most common, recognisable characteristic in you lot, our readers.

We see your compassion and empathy in the stories you seek out, the campaigns you share, the way you talk to each other, and our booksellers. We see you on picket lines and protests, community gardens and local businesses. And daily we’re touched by the solidarity in the pay-it-forward board.

For those of you who don’t know about our pay-it-forward scheme, it’s super simple, premised on the idea that stories & knowledge should be accessible to all, and we can all play a part in helping that happen.

Basically, readers who can afford a little extra put money in a pot for those readers who might struggle to buy books- it’s a wee act of solidarity among readers, some put in 50p some put in £50, most chip in £3-5 when they’re in buying something for themselves in the shop or online. We then add the sum to a virtual fund and have a wee board in the shop with some of the vouchers if the giver left a wee note.

Anyone can lift a tag, or email a request to pay using a PIF (Pay-it-forward) voucher. No questions asked. Please do.

There is no shame in being broke. There should be no stigma to accepting a helping hand willingly given. Most of us have had too much month at the end of our money, at least once. And that shouldn’t be a barrier to a good book.

The board has been up about a year, but we’ve seen it used much more since the pandemic began. We’ve used PiF funds to get books to families or vulnerable groups in collaboration with local activist groups & families, as well as readers in the shop.\ \ We’ve also seen those adding messages to the wall giving a double gift, not just cash for books but words of hope or encouragement, or suggesting books by marginalised writers, so that their gift is supporting both a reader and a writer, and if that’s not the fuckin loveliest thing I don’t know what is.

So, this is really to say thank you- to our community of readers, the way you look out for and look after each other, whether you know each other or not, gives us hope.

If you want a book, come get one, your community’s got your back.

If you wanna chip in, you can buy a voucher through the shop, or paypal a sum of your choosing here, feel free to leave a note for the tag in the comments!

And all - remember to SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY!!


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