Dundee ‘Wishing Tree’ treats city carers

The ‘Waterstones Wishing Tree’ returned earlier this week, allowing shoppers to gift a book to a young carer or person affected by a family member’s long-term illness, disability, mental health or addiction problem.

The Waterstones Wishing Tree has returned to the Commercial Street store in Dundee. Photo: University of Dundee

As the Christmas shopping season gets underway, shoppers in Dundee are being encouraged to share the gift of reading with young carers in the city.

The “Waterstones Wishing Tree”, standing in the Commercial Street branch of the book retailer, is the product of a collaboration between the University of Dundee’s Literary Dundee organisation, Leisure and Culture Dundee and Dundee City Council.

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Now in its second Christmas season, last year’s event saw more than 100 books gifted to young carers throughout Dundee.

Peggy Hughes, Manager of Literary Dundee, said: “The Wishing Tree was such a lovely project last year and we were overwhelmed with the generosity of Dundee shoppers and the volume of books received, so we are delighted to be able to do it again this year”

The gift tags on the tree are tailored to the interests of each particular carer. All shoppers need to do is choose a gift tag, buy an appropriate book and leave it with staff at Waterstones for it to be wrapped and delivered to the recipient.

The Christmas 2015 tree was unveiled at 5.30pm in Waterstones on Wednesday November 25 by author Cathy Rentzenbrink, who was visiting Dundee for a Book Week Scotland event also organised by Literary Dundee.

A University of Dundee spokesperson said: “There has been a great response already; people who were in the shop last night were buying books even before we had a chance to cut the ribbon.”

Author Cathy Rentzenbrink cuts the ribbon in Waterstones on Wednesday 25 November, opening the Wishing Tree for 2015. Photo: Literary Dundee

The city’s Carers Centre supports those aged between 8 and 15 who provide a caring role for a family member. Currently, the service supports approximately 160 families.

In addition, the UPBEET project - which is also part of Dundee Carers Centre - supports 100 young adult carers. Both organisations offer one-to-one and group support as well as outings and events amongst a roster of other services.

Sarah Clark, Team Manager of Carers Support Services at Dundee Carers Centre, said: “A lot of the young people don’t have many books so this is a welcome addition. The Wishing Tree helps us to encourage reading across the whole family, and we are really grateful for their support.”

Moira Foster, Education Support Officer with Dundee City Council, added: “On top of school work, Young Carers have the added responsibility of looking after someone in their family. Reading for enjoyment, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day, offers a wee bit of respite in a busy life.

“The gift of a book is a lovely way to say thank you for all their hard work.”