Spare Room Project tackles regional diversity

Spare Room Project tackles regional diversity

A pilot scheme to help regional diversity in publishing has launched to offer accommodation to those who live outside of London and don’t have somewhere to stay during an internship or work experience placement.

The Spare Room Project, supported by The Publishers Association, will work by matching up aspiring publishers from outside London with publishing employees in the capital, who can give them accommodation for a week in July or August.

The scheme begins to address concerns over diversity in publishing and the "London-centric" nature of the industry, by getting senior London publishers to pledge the use of a spare room for a week.

The first to benefit from the scheme will be Publishing MA students at the University of Derby on work experience. First to pledge a spare room for a week is Andrew Franklin, founder and m.d. of Profile Books.

He said: “I am delighted to accommodate a bright young student in our spare room over the summer.  It is little or no effort, it will be great to have somebody learning about publishing staying with us, and what a great way of opening up our London-centric trade to people coming from elsewhere. Roll on the summer!”

The project is led by James Spackman of Pursuit Agency, a publisher and consultant, along with Seonaid MacLeod, campaigns manager for The Publishers Association and Alistair Hodge, senior lecturer, MA Publishing at the University of Derby.

Spackman said: “It isn’t fair that you currently need to know someone in London to get started in publishing, and we need to change that. I’m sure my fellow publishers will jump at the chance to do something practical and real to help.”

Macleod said: “The PA is pleased to support the Spare Room initiative. In keeping with our commitment to ensure that the workforce of publishing is as representative as possible, it’s hugely important to give those who would not otherwise have the opportunity to come and spend a week in London, without spending money on accommodation. We’d love to see our members take up this opportunity and help a student get on the publishing ladder.”

The news comes as the University of Derby announced itself as the first university to offer an integrated programme of study encompassing all aspects of writing, literature, publishing in one course with a new BA in Writing and Publishing.

Hodge added: “While Derby is hardly the North Pole, and it is only 90 minutes by train to London, geographical location can have a significant impact, dissuading students from accepting internships or work experience opportunities because of the hassle and costs involved with finding somewhere to stay in the capital. So I thoroughly welcome this scheme and hope that it becomes an established part of the annual calendar.”