Eccles Rotary has been a part of the local community since 1932 and over those years has sought to serve the local people with a diverse range of projects.
These include working with the unemployed, promoting youth activities through music, away days and competitions as well as supporting the Eccles Mencap Gateway Club.
But one of their chief activities is running the Rotary Community Bookshop.
Rosemary Boardman is the Projects Chair with Rotary Eccles, who explained that the project at the Eccles Shopping Centre began in 2009 at the Rotary in Great Britain & Ireland Conference, which featured the National Literacy Trust.
“The National Literacy Trust spoke about the second year of the reading survey, a campaign to create a literacy culture in England and to promote more reading, particularly in people who thought it was not for them,” she explained.
“In response to this, and as part of Rotary’s six areas of focus, ‘to strengthen the capacity of communities to support basic education and literacy’. the club decided to organise a local book project.”
Since 2009, Eccles Rotary has operated a twice-monthly ‘book-swap’ from their shop, as well as supplying book boxes to a number of retirement complexes in the area.
In addition, as a major part of the scheme, the Rotary club gives free, nearly-new books to children each time the shop is open.
For the last five Christmases, the Rotarians distributed new, wrapped books to young people from their Santa’s Grotto.
Rosemary pointed to an article in the media from 2017 which highlighted how 40,000 children in Greater Manchester did not own a single book.
So Eccles Rotary took action in 2018 and organised ‘The Buzzing Book Bonanza’ in the shopping centre where more than 200 books were freely given to children.
There were opportunities to listen to stories, meet local authors, as well as ‘Hollyoaks’ TV star Kieron Richardson. The youngsters could also find out more about the library and enjoy healthy food from ‘Strip Café’, along with drinks from Eccles Coffee Bar.
Rosemary said: “This was the local community working together.
“Since then, other clubs in District 1285 (North West England and the Isle of Man) have taken up the challenge.
“Free books have been given out to children at book events linked to summer fairs and community projects. A couple of groups have also linked with local schools in deprived areas to distribute books to children who would otherwise not have access to them at home.
“All books are good quality, but pre-owned and cover a wide range of topics and age groups.”
In 2019, Eccles Rotary organised another bonanza as part of World Book Day, including children’s craft activities and storytelling linked to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.
Now in 2020, Eccles Rotary is planning to run their third ‘Buzzing Book Bonanza’.
They are already committed to providing a pop-up giveaway shop at one of our local schools linked to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.
“We continue to accept good quality books for adult readers in our bookshop, recycle items which we can no longer use and collect children’s literature for distribution,” explained Rosemary.
“This is a very low cost project which has been successfully running for over 10 years.
“It provides excellent public relations in our community and gives opportunities to promote other local Rotary activities as well as to work with other community groups.
“This is also very much a hands-on service project, with all members of our small club taking part, and we would commend it to other Rotarians.”