A reading initiative aimed at assisting projects supporting the vulnerable has won praise from Terry Waite.
Bookbinders is a scheme devised to support clients of Porchlight, a charity that supports the homeless, but will also be used by projects working with young people not in education or training to boost their literacy levels.
This week Mr Waite met staff at the educational charity KM Charity Team who have created the initiative, to find out more about it. Mr Waite ended his day in Canterbury with a visit to a Porchlight property in Whitstable Road, Canterbury where he met clients and staff at the charity to hear about their experiences of homelessness.
The former special envoy of the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, traveled to Lebanon in the 1980’s to try and secure the release of four hostages including journalist John McCarthy, but was himself kidnapped and held hostage for almost five years.
In a frank and emotional meeting with Porchlight clients Mr Waite said his love of literature was an important element in surviving the ordeal.
Mr Waite said: “In my years of captivity I had no books or paper at all for almost four years. I had to use my imagination, I had to begin to write in my head. I could do that because my imagination had been stimulated as a child.”
He explained that for a number of his years in captivity he was chained to a wall and often blindfolded.
The book Terry wrote and committed to memory during his captivity – Taken on Trust – was published after his release and is still a best seller.
Mr Waite added: “Bookbinders is such a good venture because it encourages people to read, encourages people to develop their imagination, and opens up to them a whole new world. Bookbinders is such a creative, innovative and excellent venture. Congratulations to all in Bookbinders and all that you do and go ahead with this project with great enthusiasm. It is well worth supporting.”
Porchlight client Alan Newman said: “Terry’s visit and words were awe-inspiring. His words will stay with me forever. The man is truly amazing. It was a privilege and honour for me to sit here and take it all in.”
Another Porchlight client said: “He gave me a better outlook on life that he could go through all that and come out a better man at the end.”
Porchlight manager Richard Barnard, said: “The visit with Terry was inspirational. First his story but also how he battled adversity to turn negatives into positives, which is how we work here at Porchlight, and is especially relevant to Bookbinders. I found it really interesting that he talked about writing a book in his head that was because for a lot of the people we work with find reading or writing is difficult – which is why Bookbinders has been invented – and therefore looking at other ways to do this is important. Terry was forced to be innovative in his situation and we aim to be creative and imaginative to support literacy.”
Mr Waite is president of Emmaus UK, a charity for formerly homeless people, which has a branch in Dover.
Organisations supporting the vulnerable with literacy can find out more about Bookbinders by visiting the website bookbinders.org.uk. To attend a briefing session on Bookbinders on 26 January at the Abbots Barton Hotel, Canterbury contact Tanya Long on email@example.com.
A video interview with Mr Waite can be viewed on KentOnline in the charity section. A full interview with Mr Waite will be screened to Porchlight clients and staff on 26 January and then also posted on KentOnline and on the website www.kmcharityteam.co.uk