A law firm's charity arm is launching several bookshops as a way to combat loneliness and foster community connections.
The gunnercooke foundation is spearheading The House of Friends & Books as a community shop. The charity is part of gunnercooke law firm, and connects businesses with charities and not-for-profits.
The first House of Friends & Books is due to open in Manchester in November, and will offer initiatives for customers and businesses to donate books through pay-it-forward schemes, as well as opportunities to make connections with their community.
It expects to grow the business at a rate of three to four shops a year, with some focusing on new titles and some housing second-hand stock. It will be funded by the company, with the intention of being sustainable through sales in a few years' time. The shop will run community projects, funded by book sales, including initiatives aiming to connect older people with friends, providing a place for new mums to meet, working alongside local charities and providing a learning environment for schools.
Nic Bottomley, founder of Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath, has given the firm an insight into the world of indie bookselling and how to start the process of creating a bookshop. He said: “The initiative sounds fantastic, combining the dual aims of opening a new indie bookshop and, through fostering community connections in only the way great indie bookshops can, contributing to tackling the loneliness crisis in the UK.”
Representatives of the company have said the model doesn’t “intend to compete with community bookshops, but will work with them when invited to do so”.
Darryl Cooke, chairman of the gunnercooke foundation, said: “Bookshops are the centre of communities and can provide a much-needed service that improves people’s lives, focusing on all the challenges that exist. Reading can connect us physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. When we read, we are not alone.
“Our bookshops will not only sell books but offer a space to create activities that will bond communities, from reading clubs to walking groups to wine societies. Our focus will be to connect all the charities we work with and, at the heart, to develop a culture of connection that will combat loneliness.
“We are searching for a bookseller who will bring necessary expertise and passion to our dream and who will work alongside us and the many charities that we work with to bring our dream to fruition.”
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