The gunnercooke foundation, a charity arm of law firm gunnercooke, is launching a string of bookshops to combat loneliness in the community.
The first House of Friends & Books is due to open in Manchester this winter 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 and join membership clubs.
Community projects funded by book sales will engage the square mile around the shop, including connecting older people with friends, providing a place for new mums to meet, working alongside local charities, and providing a learning environment for schools. Activities and events will be held at the store including speakers, concerts and small gatherings and parties.
The foundation aims to grow 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 gunnercooke, with the intention of being sustainable through sales in a few years’ time.
Darryl Cooke, Chairman of the gunnercooke foundation, said: “Loneliness is a widespread and growing issue in our society. A recent study from the AEI suggests that people who can name six close friends has dropped from 55% to 27% since the 1990s, while a YouGov study showed that 9 in 10 people between the age of 18 to 24 suffered from loneliness to some degree and nearly half had difficulty making friends.
“Bookshops are the centre of communities and can provide a much-needed service that improves people’s lives, focussing 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.
“In an increasingly hectic and fast moving world influenced heavily by social media, the House of Friends & Books will provide a haven of friendship and support, a nurturing and caring organisation and space that will provide education and understanding to all combatting 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.”
The gunnercooke foundation is the charity arm of challenger law firm gunnercooke. The organisation connects businesses with charities and not for profits through several projects including inspire*. Work includes supporting CEOs of charities to enhance their effectiveness, growing charity’s networks and services through peer support hubs, mentoring, workshops and 1-2-1 sessions to grow business techniques and strategies, as well as undertaking significant projects for its charities.