A group of local volunteers turned a vacant shop in Bexhill into a thriving pop-up bookshop and have become victims of their own success this week as the empty shop they were using has been successfully let to a business.

The volunteers set out to make good use of the vacant shop, keeping it aired, clean, open and interesting for local residents while the landlord searched for a tenant. Many residents said that it was great to see a community project in the space instead of yet another blank empty shop-front in the high street.

“It’s great news that the landlord has found a tenant, bringing another shop to the town centre. Our town centre has far too many empty shops which give visitors a poor impression of Bexhill and makes it harder for the traders who are here to keep going.

“We have really enjoyed running this project and we’d love to carry on, so if any landlords out there would like us to help them with an empty shop please do get in touch.” said Naomi from local charity Hastings Furniture Service (HFS).

The shop was filled with shelving and free books, saving the books from waste to encourage people to enjoy reading. The books are given away free of charge but people are welcome to make a donation, which goes to a local charity. So far over £2,000 has been raised.

The funds raised are used to support DIY and craft skills sessions for women in Rother Refuge. HFS 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, up-cycle 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.

“I’m very happy to be part of a volunteer group that have save thousands of books from landfill. It’s 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. Joining with HFS means we’re raising funds for a practical, worthwhile local cause.” said volunteer Cathy Wilson.

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