For the workers and volunteers at social enterprise, Split Perspectivz, December has started with a whirlwind of activity as they face their biggest and most audacious challenge to date: to create and deliver up to 20,000 Builder Book boxes to children in the local community in time for Christmas.
The boxes have been created at a time when many families across Merseyside are struggling to make ends meet to ensure that children don’t miss out on receiving books, stationery and papercrafts designed to inspire creativity.
Wirral author, Natalie Reeves Billing, alongside Jude Lennon and Joe Totti began creating Builder Book boxes as a “labour of love” earlier this year, initially-hand delivering 500 boxes to locations including Claire House, the Liverpool Six Community Centre, Pal Multicultural Centre, Toxteth, and The Drive.
Once the team at Split Perspectivz had seen the impact that their boxes were having on families, they were determined to find a way to roll out their deliveries on a much bigger scale, with their new and improved Builder Boxes.
Natalie said: “This has been a huge undertaking for a small social enterprise, but we’re on a mission to get our boxes out into the community where they’re needed the most, and we’ll be delivering 15,000 Builder Book boxes in the Liverpool City Region alone.”
Inside ten of the Builder Book boxes, there’ll be a golden ticket (Amazon vouchers with a value of between £25-£50 within a golden envelope) and Natalie, Jude and Joe are counting down to getting the boxes into the hands of children in the North West.
“We’re incredibly grateful to the volunteers who’ve joined us in putting together the Builder Book boxes on the festive production line we’ve created at our office,” said Jude Lennon.
Joe Totti added: “It’s taken an unbelievable amount of hard work from everyone involved, and the scale of the challenge seemed almost insurmountable for a small team, but we’ve been driven by our belief that all children deserve to have access to books and stationery.”
In a social media post, Natalie stated, “This project has involved logistics, marketing, pallet wrapping, haulage, large van rentals, 40ft containers, storage units, huge manpower, printing presses, constant deliveries, forklift trucks, pallet pumps, assembly lines, hundreds of hours of design time, web resources, feedback forms, internal paperwork systems and checks, PAYE and payroll creation, VAT registration, accounting on a whole other level. So much. And we have faced it all and overcome everything in such a short window.
“The amount of hard work and determination that’s gone into this is unreal. Sheer commitment and focus. Tough manual labour, lifting, carrying, bending, hundreds of paper cuts (seriously). Having to turn away friends and the chance of fun to knuckle down, it’s been lonely sometimes, but always at the back of my mind, I kept telling myself what we were doing this for. To make sure kids get something special at the holidays, something they can keep and make their own. A little world inside a box.”
Their festive mission has already attracted attention with Liverpool and Knowsley council ordering boxes with HAF funding via the Department of Education, One Knowsley, LCVS, MPAC and Liverpool Heartbeat. Fairplayed Media Ltd and Split Perspectivz themselves have also invested in a large number of these Imagination boxes for local children. The Christmas quest has also attracted media attention, with North West Tonight recently interviewing the team about the difficulties of delivering such a large scale project during the global paper shortage.
Racheal Jones, Chief Executive Officer for One Knowsley, said, “We are delighted to have worked with Builder Books to develop, secure and enable this enterprise to rapidly scale their model to secure this programme for the borough. I’m so pleased that our collaborative programme with Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council, HAF (Holidays, Activities and Food) funded by the DofE to upscale this enrichment programme into the borough of Knowsley has meant we can further build on the successful Summer Programme that has been delivered. This ambitious programme to provide enrichment activities for all FSM children in the borough is a testament to the innovation of this social enterprise and the strong collaborative partnerships we have in the borough.”
Speaking on behalf of local charity, Liverpool Heartbeat, about the experience of being on the Builder Book production line, Robin Baynes MBE said, “It was amazing to see the organisational skills of all the volunteers from many different companies, organisations and charities, led by Natalie singing along to ABBA; the room was filled full of joy and Christmas cheer, as box after box was filled with all sorts of goodies along with the Liverpool Heartbeat comic ‘Statues of Liverpool’ accompanied with ‘The Liverpool Heartbeat Sculpture Trail Map’.
We would all like to thank Natalie and feel very privileged to be part of the Builder Book Project.”
The Split Perspectivz team will be working every day until 21 December to ensure that their boxes are all ready in time for their Christmas deliveries.
Main image: Natalie Reeves Billing & Jude Lennon ( L-R front)