Builder Book Boxes
2036. Natalie Reeves Billing
2037. Jude Lennon
Natalie Reeves Billing and Jude Lennon, from Liverpool, are children’s authors who have delivered over 23,000 “Builder Book Boxes” across the city, featuring learning resources to help children develop reading and creativity skills.
Natalie and Jude founded the community interest company ‘Split Perspectivz’ in 2020 to help foster reading and creativity as part of education. From this, they have created the ‘Builder Book’ learning resource boxes, working locally and collaboratively to make boxes free and accessible to children most in need of them. The boxes are assembled by a team of volunteers before being distributed to schools, community centres, parent groups, and town halls. With a variety of boxes available, they focus on learning and play for key stages 1 and 2, with materials for children to read, draw, build, sketch, talk and laugh.
The pair have been running additional local community projects to celebrate Eurovision, including children’s workshops, creating the song ‘Together’, that children can adapt and producing a Eurovision magazine. Natalie and Jude have also collaborated with Liverpool’s Ukrainian Support group to create themed materials about diversity and cultural difference, distributed to 3,000 children in the city, with a downloadable version available on their ‘Split Perspectivz’s’ website. These include resources and fact sheets about different countries, with a focus on Ukraine and building empathy with refugees to fully involve families in the run up to the event.
Natalie is also the Primary Ambassador of ‘The Boat of Hope’, a child mental health campaign. The campaign founder, Bernie Hollywood OBE, from Liverpool, will be completing a solo row across the Atlantic covering 3000 miles in 90 days on a boat filled with artwork and words of children across the UK. Natalie has written the official accompanying picture book with all sales going towards the campaign and creating a space for young people to talk. ‘Split Perspectivz’ is currently working alongside Connected Places Catapult on a national inclusive innovation project aimed at primary school children to allow children to harness their creativity and use it in the course of their working lives.
Lucy Frazer MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, presented the award to Natalie and Jude at a Downing Street reception to mark Eurovision, in recognition of their work celebrating Eurovision across communities in Liverpool. (Natalie and Jude are pictured with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Picture by Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street)
In a personal letter to Natalie, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
“Thanks to your efforts, together with Jude, thousands of families have been able to enjoy reading and creative play through your ‘Builder Book Boxes’.
“It is brilliant how you have tailored materials as part of Liverpool’s celebrations of Eurovision, alongside your singing, dance and art workshops.”
“I was also inspired to hear about your ‘Boat of Hope’ creative competition, which is opening up conversations around mental health.”
In a personal letter to Jude, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
“As a children’s author, you know all about the power of storytelling and how transformative it can be for children and families. So it is truly inspiring to hear how you are using stories to empower others.
“Together with Natalie, you are distributing thousands of ‘Builder Book’ boxes to schools, parents and communities across Merseyside to help children channel their creativity.
“It is also fantastic how, for the city’s celebration of Eurovision, you have partnered with ‘Liverpool’s Ukrainian Support Group’ to publish engaging new materials that help children learn about different cultures.”
Alison McGovern, Natalie and Jude’s local MP, said:
“I congratulate my constituents for their work and for this recognition. How great to support children’s creativity and to welcome refugees as part of the UK. Merseyside is a welcoming and diverse place because of community volunteers who do so much to help, and well done to Natalie and Jude for their work.”
Natalie and Jude said:
“We receive this acknowledgement on behalf of ourselves, our collaborative partners and our volunteers. It’s been a busy and rewarding few years, and with our Point of Light awards in hand, we look forward to many more happy years creating positive change. This award is for every child with a dream, every parent who hopes for better for their children, and every social entrepreneur with the will to make a difference.”
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