Shock for volunteers after ‘bombshell’ shop closure

The Healthy Planet in Preston, which has closed at short notice
The Healthy Planet in Preston, which has closed at short notice
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Volunteers at a free book shop in Preston have been left “shell-shocked” after the store was closed.

The unit in the Fishergate Shopping Centre had been part of the Healthy Planet Foundation, now in administration, and it was announced this week the shop was closed.

Notices were put up on Wednesday to say the shop had ceased trading, with volunteers told they had until Friday to clear the unit.

Volunteer Mark Dilworth said the news had come as a “massive bombshell”.

He said the unit was home to community interest companies, recycling organisations and charities, and said: “There are quite a lot of us in here with two days to find somewhere to go.”

Mr Dilworth said centre management had been “great” and “as helpful as they could be”, and said: “We are trying to salvage as much as we can that could go into new places, but at the moment we don’t have anywhere to go.”

He appealed for help to anyone who may have space to accommodate the organisations across the city.

He said: “It was on the cards that it would be closing, but we hadn’t expected it to be quite so sudden.

“A lot of very valued local initiatives are just having to cease. The future for everybody here is extremely uncertain.”

He said workers had been told on Tuesday they must move everything out by the end of Friday.

He said: “We are all volunteers, none of us have very much in the way of vans and transport, so it is just on good will.

“Friends and family are bringing cars down, so we are moving what we can.

“We have contacted other charities locally, but if it’s not gone by Friday close of trading it will be skipped.”

The Healthy Planet is in administration, with Lucas Johnson acting as administrators.

Keith Mitchell, manager of the Fishergate Shopping Centre, said: “We work with many organisations in Preston, the University, the Preston Business Improvement District and charities to play our part in giving help to those who need it.

“Healthy Planet enjoyed the use of a large unit in the centre for almost two years.”