What does the future look like? Some ideas can be found in Future, our free Book Week Scotland 2020 publication, which features the thoughts of the public from all across Scotland. Beyond this, it is more difficult to tell. Clearly, the effect of Covid-19 on a whole host of things, from social interactions to working practices, will drive profound changes in our personal and professional lives.
We can however be certain of one thing. The pandemic has laid bare the structural inequalities of our society, bringing them very obviously to the surface, while exacerbating the already pernicious gap between the fortunate and the deprived. It is clear that Scotland faces huge challenges over the next few years, if it is to develop into the kind of wellbeing society we all want to live in.
Even before the pandemic, we were concentrated on helping those in Scotland most in need. We are even more determined now.
As Sir Harry Burns, former Chief Medical Officer for Scotland has said: ‘Literacy supports, indeed unlocks, learning in all other areas, is crucial for developing employability skills and is a prerequisite for full, informed and responsible participation in social, economic, cultural and political life. Without literacy skills, health and well-being can be seriously impaired, or even negated.’ There has never been a more important time to heed and respond to this profound socio-medical insight.
The strategic plan developed by Board and Staff at Scottish Book Trust in 2020 commits us not only to continue to develop our wonderful programmes, enhance our digital capabilities, and drive equality and diversity, but will also deliver a robust outcomes framework across all our activities, and codify our contribution to the anti-poverty agenda by setting community targets against relevant initiatives.
During lockdown, we reached families in real hardship via foodbanks, providing free books, materials and advice to parents and children. We will build on this work because we know that books, reading and writing change and inform lives, and that the impact is most greatly felt where these tools of human culture and understanding are often missing.
‘Our ability to use language lies at the centre of the development and expression of our emotions, our thinking, our learning and our sense of personal identity. Language is itself a key aspect of our culture’, writes the author of a Scottish Government report. I’d go further. As the tool of thought, language is ultimately the fundamental basis of most learning, personal development and capability. That is why our work matters.
(this will open in a new window)Read our annual review 2020