gunnercooke’s ‘House of Books & Friends’ will help fund projects and local charities
Law firm gunnercooke has announced it will open a bookshop, café and events space in Manchester to combat loneliness in the community.
The new ‘House of Books & Friends’ is set to open this autumn and will be run as a community interest company (the community must benefit from the investment rather than shareholders) offering initiatives for customers and businesses through pay-it-forward schemes.
The schemes will help fund projects and local charities combatting loneliness in the surrounding area, while visitors will also be able to make connections with their community through events and the café.
Darryl Cooke, founder of gunnercooke, explained that “reading can connect us physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. When we read we are not alone. Our focus will be to connect all the charities we work with and, at the heart, to develop a culture of connection”.
Cooke stressed that “loneliness is a widespread and growing issue in our society. It can affect anyone of any age and can come about from many different causes at any time. We believe that bookshops can provide a powerful tool”.
Before the pandemic, a survey by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport indicated that around 47% of adults in England experience loneliness “occasionally or more often”. The British Red Cross have since revealed that 41% of UK adults report are feeling lonelier after lockdown. Research carried out by The New Economics Foundation in 2017 estimated that the annual cost of loneliness to UK employers is £2.5 billion.
Waterstones manager Naomi Self has been brought in to assist with the new shop, and the firm is currently recruiting a team to work with the gunnercooke foundation, the firm’s charitable arm, to help deliver the overall project. You can sign up for more information here.