Sandra writes: I am a volunteer, and Trustee, at Lozells Bookshop. You may have heard about the shop before. Other Aston Community members, such as Jeremy Moore, have also worked there. Lozells is in between Handsworth and Aston. It is a multi-faith, multi-cultural community.
In August 2005 the Lozells Project became a charitable trust. The trustees (representing the local churches) and volunteers took over from Scripture Union who had previously run the shop for 20 years. The volunteers and Trustees come from a variety of Christian backgrounds. We feel that a great strength of the project is that we are non-denominational.
We sell some Christian books and Bibles but the most important thing in the shop is the photocopier. This, the fax machine, and the stationery, cards and toys we sell, bring in people from different parts of the community. We are known as Christians and have the great privilege of serving our neighbours of different faiths and none, as we work in the shop. We often do photocopying for people from the local mosque, and send faxes at reasonable prices for people who have come from various countries to seek asylum.
Sometimes our conversations with the customers are about the weather; at other times they will tell us what is on their minds, especially if there has been trouble recently in the area. Occasionally someone’s question will allow us to talk more directly about our faith.
We want to make the best use of the building for the local community. We let one of the rooms above the shop as office space for the Birmingham Street Pastors. One of the volunteers is trained in debt counselling and is offering this service. We are exploring other possibilities.
At present the shop is run entirely by volunteers. The Trustees are currently seeking enough funding to employ a Centre Coordinator. We hope that the coordinator will develop the project’s outreach work and help oversee the volunteer team and running of the shop.
I love the place and the people there. We pray with each other, study the Bible together and care for each other. It is part of my family and my church. I think one of the reasons that I feel so at home is the way we share our faith at the bookshop. It very much follows the Lee Abbey Movement’s motto of ‘Communicating Christ through Relationships’.
David and Juliet add: It was very good to welcome James Hicks to 121 Albert Road last September. Like Karen, he loves working with children and young people, both at the Wash and also at Aston Parish Church. He’s living with us as a long-term guest rather than a member of our Community (partly because he has to commute to work in Leicester every day), and we certainly appreciate having him around ― for one thing, he’s a great cook! There is still space for at least one more resident, so please keep praying.