Who are we and what do we do?
Books Beyond Bars UK is a collective of volunteers who send books and other educational materials, free of charge, to incarcerated LGBTQIA+ people across the United Kingdom. To do this work, we rely on donations of books and funds to cover costs such as postage.
We receive letters from LGBTQIA+ people in prison in the UK stating what kinds of books and/or resources they want and need. From the books and zines we have in stock we then put together packages containing 3–5 books, educational materials, and LGBTQIA+ resources. If you or anyone you know makes zines that you think we could use, we’d love to hear from you! Drop us an email to talk about it.
If you are an LGBTQIA+ person in prison, or know someone who is, please feel free to send them our order form.
We try to meet requests as closely as possible based on genre and type from the books donated to us.
Our decision to launch this project in the UK has been inspired by our sister project in the US, LGBT Books to Prisoners. The team there have sent book parcels to more than 8,000 incarcerated people across the US.
Why does this matter?
We believe that this work matters because we want to acknowledge, and work against, the oppressive functions of the prison system. Our project seeks to shift some control back into the hands of incarcerated people by giving them access to resources of their choosing.
We try to meet individuals’ requests as directly as possible. In this way we also seek to affirm the dignity of all individuals by providing access to knowledge of individuals’ choosing, so that they can learn and grow as they wish.
Access to reading materials in prison can be limited, and LGBTQIA+ people can have a particularly hard time finding resources that meet their needs and wants. We are in a position to gather and distribute these resources.
LGBTQIA+ people in prison face hardships that can include – but are not limited to – isolation and violence. We want people to know that there is a supportive community on the outside that cares about their wellbeing.
Want to get involved?
You can find out how to get involved in the project here.