Eccles Rotary has been a part of the Greater Manchester community since 1932. Over those years, it has sought to serve the local people with projects as diverse as working with the unemployed, promoting youth activities through music, away days and competitions and supporting the Mencap-backed Eccles Gateway Club.
We have also run the Rotary Community Bookshop in our local shopping centre.
This project started when we attended the 2009 Rotary in Great Britain & Ireland Conference where the National Literacy Trust spoke about a campaign to create a literacy culture in England, promoting reading, particularly in people who thought it was not for them.
Since then, we have operated a twice monthly ‘book swap’ from our shop as well as supplying book boxes to a number of retirement complexes in the area.
A major part of the scheme is giving away nearly-new books to children each time the shop is open. And apart from this year because of COVID-19, for the last five Christmases we have distributed new, wrapped books to young people from our Santa’s Grotto.
Last summer, we provided some new books for a primary school in a deprived area of Eccles and we are now investigating a scheme distributing second-hand books around a local estate to promote reading.”
Four years ago, a newspaper article highlighted the fact that 40,000 children in Greater Manchester did not own a single book. So the club organised a Buzzing Book Bonanza in the shopping centre where over 200 books were freely given to children. There were opportunities to listen to stories, meet local authors, plus Hollyoaks’ star Kieron Richardson, and find out about the library.
This was the local community working together.
Since then, other clubs in North-West England 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 clubs have linked with schools in deprived areas distributing books to children who would not have access to them at home.
All of the books are good quality, but pre-owned, and cover a wide range of topics and age groups.
Two years ago, Eccles Rotary organised another Buzzing Book Bonanza linked to World Book Day, including children’s craft activities and storytelling linked to the “Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library”.
Last year, we had planned to run our third bonanza, but the pandemic put paid to those efforts.
Since March 2020, the shop has remained closed, but we have been using the window to promote Rotary activities.
Last summer, we provided some new books for a primary school in a deprived area of Eccles and we are now investigating a scheme distributing second-hand books around a local estate to promote reading.
At present, with the current lockdown, we have no way in which we can run another bonanza, although literacy is still in the forefront of our project plans.
Four years ago, a newspaper article highlighted the fact that 40,000 children in Greater Manchester did not own a single book.”
We hope very soon to be able 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.
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.
It 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.
Rosemary sadly died on May 12th not long after writing this article. Her funeral was held on May 28th.