AN ACCESSIBLE book club for local people with learning disabilities will be launched at this year’s Stratford Literary Festival – and it’s all thanks to local fundraisers.

Heart of England Mencap launched an appeal in December, asking people to donate funds to buy ‘Books Beyond Words’ – a series of picture books specially designed for people with learning disabilities.

The appeal was given a major boost by the Friends of Heart of England Mencap, stepping in with a £1,300 donation from funds raised at its charity firewalk in October.

Hundreds of pounds in individual donations have also been received, with shoppers at Waitrose in Alcester helping the appeal by dropping their green tokens into the Heart of England Mencap pot, securing £371 from the supermarket.

Heart of England Mencap has now been able to buy the first two bumper sets of Books Beyond Words, plus the accompanying iPad apps.

These will be available at all of the charity’s services across Warwickshire and Worcestershire – and reach out even further than that.

Heart of England Mencap will be launching an Accessible Book Club at this year’s Stratford Literary Festival, open to anyone with a learning disability.

The event will run between 1pm and 3pm on Friday April 28th at Stratford ArtsHouse. Entry is free, and open to all.

Lucy Bergonzi, the illustrator of the books, will be there on the day – she will also be helping Heart of England Mencap customers to create their own book ahead of the event.

“The books are picture stories, perfect for adults with a learning disability who prefer to read using pictures rather than words,” Cath Errington, Fundraising Manager for Heart of England Mencap,” said.

“Some are fictional books while others illustrate scenarios and issues our customers may face, like a trip to the hospital – opening up the communication channels and building understanding.

“Everyone’s invited to our launch event on April 28th to see the books for themselves and get involved, and we’re very grateful to Stratford Literary Festival for their support.

“Of course none of this would be happening without the Friends of Heart of England Mencap and all those who fundraised for them, or donated to the appeal, and we can’t thank them enough.”

For (free) tickets to the Accessible Book Club launch, call the Literary Festival box office on 01789 207100.

If you want to support Heart of England Mencap’s book appeal – go to www.heartofenglandmencap.org.uk/donate or text MECP12 £10 (or whatever you can afford) to 70070.