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Newham Bookshop deliver books to those in self-isolation with the help of cycling volunteers

PUBLISHED: 10:27 19 March 2020 | UPDATED: 09:57 23 March 2020

John Newham and delivery driver Peter Williams. Picture: Cash Boyle

John Newham and delivery driver Peter Williams. Picture: Cash Boyle

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A clever idea from Newham Bookshop is set to make sure people have plenty of reading material during the coronavirus crisis.

Interior of Newham bookshop. Picture: Cash BoyleInterior of Newham bookshop. Picture: Cash Boyle

Though the bookshop has been forced to close its doors to the public, they are now running a delivery service to those who are vulnerable or self-isolating.

Orders will either be delivered by post or by a voluntary cyclist.

Vivian Archer manages the bookshop, having worked there for 33 years. She says they had “no choice” but to start the initiative: “It was obviously going to be lockdown for many, many people. The bookshop, as all small businesses, have to survive. So it just made sense.”

She lauds the impact of Twitter in getting the word out about the scheme; John Newman, who co-runs the shop with Vivian, says “it works.”

John Newham and Vivian Archer who co-run Newham bookshop. Picture: Cash BoyleJohn Newham and Vivian Archer who co-run Newham bookshop. Picture: Cash Boyle

Vivian explains that although the initial service was postal delivery only, as publicity grew locals got in touch offering to transport orders by bike.

According to John the number of events cancelled meant that they “were forced back into the shop”, which he describes as “our main access to the community.”

He has worked at the shop across two separate spells; first from 1989 - 1994 and then from 2002 onwards.

Vivian believes the momentum is down to “the community support we have, and that’s what the shop has been built on.”

Front door of Newham bookshop, which is now taking and delivering book orders for people who are self-isolating or who are vulnerable. Picture: Cash BoyleFront door of Newham bookshop, which is now taking and delivering book orders for people who are self-isolating or who are vulnerable. Picture: Cash Boyle

She pointed out that coronavirus is set to play havoc with Mother’s Day; a tweet sent out this morning had a lot of responses with book recommendations for those unable to visit their mum due to self-isolation.

John says they have also been asked for recommendations by parents who are at home with their children “partly as a precaution but also because maybe the children are not feeling too great.”

With an imminent announcement expected on schools, Vivian and John may have to deal with a surge in these requests.

Vivian explains that “five (drivers) have actually offered; so far we’ve only used two”. With Vivian and John determined to offer this service for the duration of the crisis, no doubt every volunteer will be needed.

To volunteer, please contact Newham Bookshop on 020 8552 9993 or at @NewhamBookshop on twitter.


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