Community project needs a home

A team of volunteers that took over an empty shop and filled it with free books to encourage people to enjoy reading and raise funds for a local charity is looking for anew home.

Monday, 20th June 2016, 1:01 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 12:00 am
Pop Up Books SUS-160620-105915001

The volunteers made use of the empty shop, at Devonshire Road, Bexhill, keeping it aired and open while the landlord found a commercial tenant.

The shop was filled with books that might otherwise have gone to waste.

Customers could choose any three books for free, but donations were encouraged by the volunteers who chose to donate every penny raised to local charity Hastings Furniture Services.

Nearly £2,500 was raised to support DIY and craft skills sessions for women in local refuges.

Hastings Furniture Services runs the sessions for survivors of domestic violence to boost their confidence, self-esteem and provide some practical useful skills to help them maintain and improve their next home safely using low cost and reused materials.

The women say they thoroughly enjoy the supportive, calming creative sessions. Learning how to put up shelves, upcycle gifts and wire plugs are all useful skills for the women to take with them when they move on from the Refuge to their new home with their children.

Volunteer Cathy Wilson said: “I’ve really enjoyed being part of this group, saving thousands of books from landfill and raising funds for HFS.

“It’s been great to see people browsing the books and enjoying reading. It’s also very sociable; people love to chat so I’ve got to know more people in Bexhill and I work with a lovely group of fellow volunteers helping a practical, worthwhile local cause.”

Now the charity is hoping that a new home can be found for this much-loved community project.

Naomi Ridley from HFS said “The project has been incredibly successful, thanks to the enthusiasm of the volunteer team. We’re really pleased that the owner has found a commercial tenant to take over the shop.

“The volunteers have an inspiring enthusiasm for preventing waste and encouraging people to read, and we’re delighted that they have chosen to raise funds for our Refuge training project.

“HFS has been able to provide some support for the project by furnishing the shop, including a comfy reading area and some furniture for the storytelling sessions the volunteers were running.”

“The volunteers would love to continue the project, re-use more books and raise more funds to help the women in the local refuge, so we would be delighted to hear from anyone who has an empty shop and would like our help to bring it back into use. Get in touch via our website”

Hastings Furniture Services is an award-winning furniture re-use charity for Hastings and Rother, and has been helping people to make a house a home for over 25 years.

The charity’s huge stores in Hastings and Bexhill have a constantly-changing stock of bargains, with generous discounts for low income households receiving benefits or working tax credits, students and pensioners.

HFS will collect reusable donations completely free of charge, preventing 300 tonnes of surplus items from going to waste each year and helping thousands of people with low incomes.

Full house clearances can also be provided, with an emphasis on reducing waste and providing an affordable friendly service.

They also offer training, support and experience to enable unemployed people to gain the qualifications, skills and confidence needed to play an active part in the community.

Most of the charity’s volunteers are unemployed people who enjoy contributing something to the local community.

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