Category: Bluebell Bookshop

Bringing the gift of literature to the children of Yarl’s Wood

Derek Robinson, owner of the Bluebell bookshop in Penrith

CUMBRIAN bookseller, Derek Robinson, spent Christmas Day making the 500-mile round-trip to Bedfordshire to deliver books and puzzles for the innocent children locked up at Yarl’s Wood detention centre.

Derek, whose trip is featured in this week’s Big Issue In the North, owns Penrith’s Bluebell Bookshop. He said, ‘I wanted to bring the very best books we could find, stories of other worlds beyond what the children are enduring, of love, amazing imagination, freedom and excitement, a chance to escape for moments from their distress, into artful and wonderful illustrations.’

He was inspired to act by children’s author Beverley Naidoo’s article in the Guardian about her visit to Yarl’s Wood,

Derek has mounted an End Child Detention Now campaign exhibition at the Bluebell, where customers may sign paper petitions or use the shop’s computers to sign on-line at

Our campaign’s Penrith-based co-ordinator, novelist Clare Sambrook, said: ‘We’ve had such encouraging local support. Greengrocers, Green Mangle Organic, are promoting the campaign at their stall. Hundreds of Cumbrians, including the Bishop of Carlisle, many clergy and churchpeople, have signed the on-line petition. Dozens of people have written to MP David Maclean asking him to join the 113 MPs who’ve signed Chris Mullin’s parliamentary motion opposing the detention policy.

‘The children’s authors’ and illustrators’  letter in the Observer, Beverley Naidoo’s chilling Guardian article, and the comment kindly forwarded by Michael Bond from Paddington Bear, have had an impact we could not have anticipated. Many many people are beginning to realise that there are real children locked up in those terrible places, children with the same imaginative and emotional capacity as our children’.

Anyone inspired to highlight the campaign is invited to email us at Schools, shops, faith groups, trade unions, anyone at all — we’ll be delighted to send images and text for exhibition.

Thanks to Fred Wilson for the picture of Derek Robinson at the Bluebell

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