We are The Book Trade Charity (BTBS), formerly known as The Book Trade Benevolent Society.
We were founded 180 years ago as a benevolent society to help those who had been employed in the book trade but had fallen on hard times. This was before State provided pensions and health care when people who had been in employment often needed help and ‘provident’ societies specific to particular trades and industries were a common thing.
As the trade has evolved over the years so have we. We still offer support to those who have worked in the trade and need our help but we also offer support to those looking to enter the industry.
The book trade is a vibrant, important industry but it is very centred on London and it can be difficult to begin your career in it, particularly for those who aren’t based in or near London.
We believe that it’s important that everyone has the opportunity to pursue a career in the book trade regardless of their situation so offer support for those who would otherwise be unable to take up opportunities for interviews, internships and training.
Our objective is to support people who would otherwise find it difficult to start a career in the book trade, particularly due to difficulties with affording the cost of attending interviews or undertaking internships. This particularly applies to people outside of London, who need to get to London for interviews and to temporarily live in London for internships though we will also fund travel and subsistence costs anywhere in the UK. We can also cover the costs of purchasing appropriate clothing.
We offer financial support to help cover the costs associated with attending interviews and undertaking internships. In addition, we can offer support whilst undertaking study or professional development, including Masters programmes, though this doesn’t normally include the cost of courses or tuition.
We support people who otherwise would struggle with the costs of interviews and internships. We will fund people of all ages but will prioritise people under the age of 30 and from backgrounds under-represented in the trade, be that BAME, non-university educated or from working class backgrounds. Eligibility varies depending on a variety of factors. If you think you need support in starting your career in the book trade we would encourage you to get in touch to ask questions specific to your circumstances or to apply.
Everyone who applies is different and has different needs so we don’t have a strict application process.
There are two parts to the process: proving eligibility and applying for specific funding.
You can get approval for funding at any time (though if there is a long time between your first being approved and applying for specific funding we will ask for up to date bank statements). So when you first start applying for jobs or internships you can get provisional approval for funding in anticipation that you will receive an offer that you will need support for. When you have an offer of an interview or internship we would then ask for further information about your offer and costs.
Or you may apply for eligibility and funding at the same time, once you’ve received an offer of an interview of internship.
If you’re applying for support for training it’s a slightly different process, please get in touch direct.
You can apply at anytime. You are welcome to apply when you are applying for jobs, that way we can ‘pre-approve’ you for when you do have an interview and know what costs you will incur, which means we can act quickly. But if you don’t apply till you know you have an interview or internship that’s fine as long as we have enough time (ie at least a few working days) to process your application.
We are as quick as we can be with approval, once you’ve provided us with the correct paperwork it takes a few days. Once you’ve been approved and we have your bank details we can transfer the money fast. We always try to be as fast as we can where there are circumstances that require it.
No. We only help people with financial support. We would encourage you to visit bookcareers.com for more information about finding jobs in the book trade. We will sometimes fund people through the support bookcareers can offer, if they feel you are eligible, and request this.
It is only legal to not pay someone minimum wage for the work they are doing if they are doing a short work experience placement or a longer internship which is part of an industrial placement (for example as part of a Masters programme) or if they are volunteering for a charity. All other internships must legally be paid.
We do not want to encourage exploitation, so will only offer support for legal, genuine opportunities. We can therefore offer support for paid internships, for short unpaid work experience placements (usually no more than two weeks) or for unpaid internships as part of a course. Any other unpaid work cannot be supported.
We pay monthly but are able to pay a larger amount at the beginning should you have expenses upfront or won’t be paid till the end of your first month. We never pay the whole amount in a lump sum in case you end up leaving your internship early.
We understand that sometimes there are circumstances which might mean you don’t or can’t stay for the full length of your internship. We pay in monthly instalments rather than as a lump sum for this reason and ask for ongoing receipts to release funding; we still will not request repayment of funds paid to you, but we would hope this is a rare occurrence.
What we are able to fund varies hugely on a case by case basis but can include support whilst you undertake postgraduate study (such as a Masters in Publishing, or courses in bookbinding) or training courses as well as professional development opportunities provided by industry organisations such as the
Society of Young Publishers (SYP), Publishing Training Centre, or Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP).
As everything is assessed on a case by case basis in this area we would encourage you to get in touch with specifics about your needs.
The aim of the project is to help people into the book trade. In these circumstances, you would need to decide if this is a temporary difficulty – in which case you would be welcome to stay (subject to continuing to pay rent). Otherwise, the notice period could be reduced and it may be possible to leave earlier, if circumstances require.
Like all landlords we ask that noise late at night be kept to a minimum and that you treat the property and your neighbours as respectfully as possible. The tenancy agreement covers legal obligations on both parties.
You talk to us. As your landlords we’re obligated to fix any fabric problems that may occur.
However, normal precautions should be taken to avoid issues such as blocked drains or toilets; heating should be left on low during winter months, even if unoccupied, to prevent burst pipes etc. A member of staff will be able to offer guidance.
Yes. An inventory of furnishings and household items supplied will be provided when you move in, with a list of items we do not supply which you will need to consider acquiring, depending on your needs.
Yes, providing they also work in the book trade we’re very happy to have applications from people who would like to have a bedsit each in one of our shared flats. Please indicate who you are applying alongside on your application form.
We will always pair you with someone of the same gender and as our housing is exclusively for new entrants to the book trade we hope that you’ll find a lot of shared interests. If there are any factors that might make sharing complicated (ie you’re vegan and don’t want to share with a meat eater) then please indicate or consider applying for one of our one bed flats.
Yes if they’re also working in the book trade. If they’re not and there are particular reasons why you feel you would still qualify then please talk to us, we’re keen to help people who would benefit from the housing but don’t want to use our subsidised housing where there isn’t clear need which fits in with our objectives.
The standard Council tax per flat is currently about £95; this would be split between two people sharing a flat, whereas a single person would get a 25% discount. Please be aware that rates are revised in April each year.