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Secondhand bookshop changes life of autism sufferer

There is a very interesting story in the Edinburgh Evening News…..

Brian books himself a career with a little help from family


IT is never easy finding that first job when you leave college or university. For autism sufferer Brian Rafferty, the challenge became practically impossible as he struggled to cope with interviews and busy workplaces. But after months of unsuccessful job-hunting, the dejected 21-year-old Asperger Syndrome sufferer’s family took it upon themselves to get him on the employment ladder. They came up with the idea of selling second-hand books as it would involve minimum outlay and leased a shop on Broughton Street.

Brian’s step-father Kevin Rafferty put an online advert asking for donations of old books, and asked friends and family to spread the word. They have now accumulated around 7,000 or 8,000 unwanted books – enough to fill the shelves of the Broughton Street Book Shop, as well as two cellars and a spare room in the family’s New Town home.

Although the shop has only been up and running for two months, the family has hailed the venture a success – and say it has made a huge difference to Brian.

Mr Rafferty, who is a police sergeant based at Edinburgh Airport, said: “Going for interviews and communication is really difficult for Brian. At a time when people without special needs are struggling to get jobs, it made it even harder for Brian. It was a friend who first came up with the idea of a second-hand book shop because we didn’t want to buy lots of high-value stock in case the venture didn’t work. We are doing this to give Brian a purpose in life and a reason for getting up in the morning. The difference in Brian is unbelievable. It’s like chalk and cheese.”

Brian hands out a leaflet to customers to explain his condition and the reasons why the shop has been set up. His step-father says this has “touched people’s hearts” and has led to the staggering amount of donations.

Mr Rafferty, 46, said he has been amazed by how many other parents with autistic children have had similar experiences, and they too have donated their old books. Former West Lothian College student Brian, who has also been support by his mum Sandra, 49, who works in the pharmaceutical industry, says he loves working in the shop and has been kept busy since he opened up in December.

His leaflet to customers says: “With the help of my family and friends I have opened this second hand bookshop and intend to support myself and give a purpose to my life. I don’t think I am unemployable.”

At the end of each year, a proportion of the shop’s profits will be donated to the National Autistic Society. The book shop will be officially on March 7 by Sir Tom Farmer, who heard about it through various friends.

He said: “Here is a young lad who has a particular difficulty having the determination and enthusiasm to open a book shop. This is a terrific wee project and if I can play any role to help it, then I am more than happy to.”

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