The Booksellers Association of the United Kingdom & Ireland Limited

Unwin Charitable Trust

In 2017, we launched a partnership with the Unwin Charitable Trust to start an ongoing funded programme to assist independent high-street booksellers by funding free, professional advice from highly experienced booksellers and former booksellers, with the full support of the BA.

Since its foundation in 1975 by the publisher Rayner Unwin CBE, the Unwin Charitable Trust has supported publishing and bookselling by sponsoring many different projects in the UK and abroad.

The UCT mentoring programme is an opportunity for you to discuss, in complete confidence, your business plans and to develop ideas without requiring time away from the shop.
"It fits in well with a very tight schedule" - Harbour Bookshop

The mentors are Sheila O'Reilly, Patrick Neale and Nicki Thornton.

Sheila O'ReillyPatrick NealeNicki Thornton

Sheila has been in bookselling and publishing for over 30 years. Under her ownership and management, Dulwich Books was voted London independent Bookshop of the Year in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and in May 2014 was voted the best independent bookshop in the UK and Ireland.

Patrick co-owns and runs Jaffe & Neale Bookshop and Cafe in Chipping Norton and Stow on the Wold. Patrick is the tutor on the BA's Introduction to Bookselling Course, co-author of the BA's guide How to Start and Run a Bookshop, an award-winning bookseller, former BA President, and UK Ambassador for Edelweiss.

Nicki established Mostly Books in Abingdon, Oxfordshire in 2006, winning the inaugural 'Best New Bookshop' British Book Award. Nicki, author of The Last Chance Hotel, works closely with schools to inspire reading.
"Good advice about day to day operations. A brilliant, free resource for booksellers." - Ink@84

The programme is designed for booksellers at any stage of their bookselling career. Whatever your queries or concerns, this mentoring programme is an opportunity to seek suggestions and receive clear personalised advice, free of charge and at a time and place that suits you, thanks to full funding by the Unwin Charitable Trust. If you are looking to develop your bookshop, stabilise your existing business or need some practical ideas to turn your business around, then this is a great opportunity to talk matters through in total confidence with an insightful and discreet mentor.
"Friendly, helpful, approachable" - Rogan's Books

For those new to the business of bookselling, the Trust would like to offer you four visits from their mentor over the course of your first two years of trading, to help you through opening or to review your business plan once you have been trading for a while.
"Just the boost we needed" - The Rabbit Hole
If you would like to know more, you can email Kate Gunning or visit the Unwin Charitable Trust’s website or contact the Programme’s administrator, Margaret Wilson Otherwise, complete the application form to arrange an initial phone call, followed by a visit from your mentor, who will afterwards prepare a bespoke report with recommendations for improving profitability and success.
"I would thoroughly recommend all booksellers take up this offer, however long they have been in the business." - Caxton Books & Gallery