Have you met Bletchingley?
It's a medieval village, with a Grade I listed church, set in a designated area of outstanding natural beauty. They have bucketfuls of beauty and history, a wonderful school and cosy pubs. Hello Bookshop CIC wants to bring with it a new wave of literacy, culture, crafts and creativity to help people enjoy books, feel part of their community and ultimately to improve the wellbeing and mental health of its residents.
Once the bookshop's open...
Children and families in Bletchingley will have easy access to books and media, in the village they call home, as well as regular events like storytime and crafternoons.
Bletchingley residents and people from further afield can express their creativity through writing workshops, D&D, a young adult book group – whatever there's demand for. This is critical for young people as, at the time of writing, the local youth group is sadly closed.
Older people in Bletchingley can buy books, use the free jigsaw swap, volunteer to read to little ones in intergenerational story time, or come along to Scrabble club.
Right now it's just me
Hello! I’m Sophie. I’m so excited to be opening a bookshop in the beautiful village of Bletchingley. It’s a medieval village with pubs, a church, a choir, and so much more. No bookshop though. Yet...
If you'd like to get involved, donate some books, join as a director, or volunteer in the shop, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you! You're wonderful for even considering it.
How the idea started
I loved going to the village library as a kid (think Matilda, but chubbier). And at University I would spend hours, and most of my student loan, at my local second-hand bookshop.
I'm a bit older now. I've been a bookseller in Tunbridge Wells, dipped my toe into the publishing industry, written a few books, done standup, and made marketing writing my day job in London. So I've moved to Surrey to enjoy some green space and realise my lifelong dream to run a bookshop.
How the idea grew
Did you see the Channel 4 show, Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds? As part of my day job, I was working on the social media for it. Boy, did it make an impact. It really, really moved me.
Seeing how social isolation affected the community of a people’s home was staggering. And the impact the children made was enormous. Their physical health and mental health improved in a number of weeks. Social isolation is a problem in rural communities, just like old people’s homes. I’m excited to try out an intergenerational story time at the bookshop. Just picture Bletchingley’s older population reading to the little ones.
Growing up in a village, I was lucky I had a library. But there are families and children who don’t have access to a library or a bookshop. I want that to be a thing of the past. That's Bletchingley right now.
There are young people in Bletchingley who don’t have a youth group because there aren’t enough volunteers. They need places to play, grow and find their voice.
And there are writers everywhere. Budding and professional. They need a creative hub too.
So far so good
We are officially incorporated as a Community Interest Company (CIC). A CIC is a type of company that keeps the profits within the community. Any money made goes to supporting the community of Bletchingley, initially through growing the bookshop and services we provide.
I'm building up the stock for the shop, buying and collecting books from eBay and charity shops (and I'll be donating a big chunk of my own collection).
We're crowdfunding because...
We need money for shelving, getting hundreds more books (especially children's books!), a printer and POS system, overheads, and vital but not-so-exciting stuff like insurance and DBS (formerly CRB) checks for all volunteers.