Food banks provide tangible support for people in greatest need, helping families and individuals who are in crisis or struggling to make ends meet.

This support often goes beyond the 'putting of food on the table' and, as the festive season creeps ever closer, a Scottish food bank group has explained how our Christmas appeal will help improve the lives of people suffering with stress, loneliness, and poverty. 

For a second year running the Herald has teamed up with the Scottish Book Trust for our Christmas campaign, fundraising to gift books through food banks across Scotland

Our campaign will ensure that people who are using food banks over the coming weeks will also be able to take home a book, whether that's as a gift, for a young family member or for their own enjoyment. 

Start Up Stirling runs eight food banks across the Central Belt and this year will support around 500 people a week over Christmas. 

Read more: Val McDermid: Help children discover the power of stories

The charity has been helping people in Stirling for 29 years and has seen up close the advantages and priceless benefits of nourishing minds as well as bodies.

A spokesperson for Start Up Stirling said: "Books bring myriad benefits to people’s lives.

"Along with just the sheer joy of disappearing into a brilliant story, reading has been shown to support wellbeing, reduce feelings of stress and loneliness and play a huge role in children’s development as well as breaking the poverty cycle.

"Unfortunately, the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and cuts to libraries means that for many people, books are harder to access than ever before."

The Herald: Start Up Stirling will give out free books with food parcelsStart Up Stirling will give out free books with food parcels (Image: Alasdair Watson)

Thanks to the Scottish Book Trust and the generosity of people who have supported the campaign, Start Up Stirling will be able to gift books to people along with their food parcels. 

People will be able to choose from a selection of titles, suitable for all ages, bringing Christmas tales and the joy of reading to people who are often marginalised and forced to count and carefully spend every penny.

In recent years Scottish Book Trust staff have heard from foodbanks all over Scotland of the impact this campaign makes and Julie Christie, the charity's communities and fundraising manager, said: ‘To everyone who has donated to this amazing Christmas campaign, thank you so, so much.

"You have given people a real gift this Christmas – the gift of imagination, the gift of a book, and also the fact that you have let someone know that you care enough to give them a gift just for them.’

Since 2020, Scottish Book Trust have gifted over 290,000 books to children, families and adults through their appeals and transforming lives through reading and writing.

Read more: Introducing our Christmas appeal with the Scottish Book Trust

It is a charity and campaign that the Herald is proud to support, particularly during the title's 240th anniversary year.

Catherine Salmond, Editor of the Herald, said: "We have a special ask of you as we launch our Christmas appeal, joining forces with Scottish Book Trust to ensure children across our country get a new book of their own this year.

"We are asking you, our loyal readers, to donate to Scottish Book Trust so it can deliver, through food banks across Scotland, books to families this Christmas."

To support the appeal and help to give the magic of books this Christmas, visit