The Spare Room Project is re-launching with “a fresh identity” and new sponsor in Penguin Random House (PRH) UK, and is calling on at least 50 new publishing staffers across the industry to sign up as hosts.
Established in 2016 with the support of the Publishers Association, and celebrating its second anniversary on Monday (19th November), the Spare Room Project aims to address the lack of regional diversity in the industry by “diversifying the London-centric talent pool”.
Now sponsored by PRH UK, it will continue to match interns and people doing work experience from outside London with people in the publishing and wider book industry who can offer them a spare room or bed for free for one week. However it is now issuing "a call to arms" for at least 50 new people across the industry to sign up as hosts, according to organisers of the initiative.
The project has already helped more than 70 interns find free accommodation, working with hosts from 30 different publishers as well as agents and authors. The project is looking for hosts from across the whole industry, such as those in editorial, sales, technology and HR, as well as agents and authors.
James Spackman, founder of the Spare Room Project, said: "Despite the name, you don’t even need a spare room to be a host; we want to hear from anyone who can welcome an aspirant new starter in publishing, even if you’re offering them a sofa or your room while you’re on holiday. We’ve seen that it works, no matter what the host’s living situation may be: whether you have pets, other flatmates, or small children, we’re keen to work with you.
"We see this as a very practical, and easy, way for people across the industry – no matter what area of publishing they work in – to get involved in opening doors to those people outside London who might otherwise not have the opportunity to experience working in the wonderful world of books. Hosts also tell us how rewarding they find it to give new starters some informal mentoring; passing on useful experience and advice."
"The need for the project is clear," the organisers said, refering to stats obtained from a survey coordinated for the scheme that out of 23 users 40% would have found it impossible to take up their placement without free accommodation. A further 30% said they were unsure if it would have been possible.
According to the campaign's research, more than half of those surveyed have since found a job in the publishing industry.
Currently, the project does not have enough hosts to support the number of people applying as guests and is having to turn away at least five people each month, organisers said.
More information can be found at thespareroomproject.co.uk.