Many moons ago, Ian Lawson, Staffordshire County Councillor, supported my bid (Michelle Jackson) for Local Community funding to develop a Coffee Morning at Biddulph Library. Tall Oakes Nursing Home were regular visitors and came in all weathers for a coffee and a chat and took part in some super events such as painting, flower arranging and other crafts in the library.
When Ross Podyma, Community Engagement Worker from the Royal Voluntary Service, was looking for a venue for his Local People’s project, I quickly volunteered the library. The group meet once a month to look at ways to reduce social isolation for the older people in the area. Now the Steering Group is established they are meeting up, sharing ideas and planning a wide range of fun community activities, from their Tall Oakes Ukulele group to days out in Stockport.
This is a great example of ‘People Helping People’, services are not being delivered to older people but the group are helping to shape the range of activities on offer. Through the funding from the People’s Health Trust and the efforts of local of people, the activities are making a difference to members of the local community. For me, it is great to see the group flourishing and growing in confidence, under Ross’s guidance. They are still meeting in the library, planning and delivering their events. They have even set up their own Facebook Page!
Staffordshire Libraries continue to work in partnership with Gnosall Library Environment and Nurture Hub (GLEAN) on a community library for Gnosall. GLEAN is a small voluntary group made up of residents with relevant skills and experience, and one parish councillor. The Group were delighted last year, to have a successful application to the Charity Commission to become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, which is legal structure for a Charity that wishes to become incorporated.
GLEAN visited Werrington Community Library and Wellbeing Centre in January to see a community managed library in action and to talk to the committee and volunteers there about their experiences of it.
One member of GLEAN commented “We learnt a lot about how an active group of volunteers can manage and run a library very successfully, with numerous extra activities for all sections of the local community.”
Recruitment and training of volunteers continues at Cheslyn Hay Library. The team has 13 volunteers for the library role and 3 more supporting with shelving and tidying. They are growing in confidence as they serve customers and practice their new skills. There is great rapport developing between the volunteers and the customers as they are starting to get to know each other. The customers are appreciative that volunteers are stepping forward to keep the service open and are patient as the volunteers work through each different scenario. The volunteers are enjoying the experience and feeling proud of their achievements in using the library computer system.
This demonstrates that there is appetite within the local community to support the library service, local people giving something back to the community through volunteering and also by customers using and valuing this local resource.
Monthly meetings at Kinver Community Managed Library are a great way for the volunteers to catch up, share news and highlight any training needs. By coming together on a regular basis, volunteers get to meet up with those they don’t normally see and discuss any initiatives or issues.
Part of my role is to support and train so these monthly meetings are an ideal opportunity for me to carry out training to a group of volunteers together and to share new information. Katherine, the Community Relations volunteer will then make sure that any training is recorded in the Volunteers Voice Newsletter for those that missed the session. I recently did a refresher session on the library website and our online services.
When Kinver Community Managed Library took over at the start of 2017, two of our volunteers, Lin and Sue, wanted to kick start the lapsed weekly Baby Bounce and Rhyme sessions. Despite some publicity, it didn’t really take off until we decided to rename the activity. In June we advertised the newly revamped ‘Tots Time’ with stories, songs, simple crafts and even a guitarist on occasion. We saw an increase in attendance immediately.
A little bit of creative word play goes a long way and by rebadging the sessions we managed to attract a new audience. Average attendance per month previously was 6 children and 5 adults. Since June average monthly attendance has more than doubled, seeing 15 children and 12 adults.
Story times are on offer at Shenstone Library at many times throughout the week. Story times are a fun way to encourage young children to become life long readers and a fantastic opportunity for families to socialise in a welcoming environment.
Longstanding volunteer Jennie is always happy to read stories and do craft activities for younger children, often at very short notice.
This shows what a wonderful support our volunteers are, offering events and activities for local people, in response to local needs.
Shenstone Community Managed Library Local History Group recently met for the first time at the library. There was a great turnout and those present had some really interesting discussions.
The schedule for future meetings for this year can be found at the library website http://shenstonecommunitylibrary.org/local-history-group/
This shows how our Community Managed Libraries are becoming true community hubs, offering a range of groups and activities to cater for diverse interests.
The Volunteers at Glascote Community Managed Library recently held a Quiz Night .The Volunteers organised everything themselves, including food and drink and writing all the questions. Volunteers from Glascote, Wilnecote and Tamworth Libraries were present, as well as staff from Staffordshire Library Service and South Staffordshire and Shropshire NHS Foundation Trust. 25 people attended in total. It was a great night with a close fought quiz!
Not only was this a really enjoyable evening, but it provided a chance for volunteers and staff from different libraries to mix and make new friends.
Volunteers at Kinver Community Managed Library are always eager to participate in national campaigns and promotions. The ‘power of words’ was the theme for this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day and they supported this by producing a poignant and relevant display. A major feature was a story handed in from one family highlighting a local connection which sparked a whole new conversation within the community and was available in the library for all to read.
The personal story played a large part in the display, bringing the theme closer to home and by sharing anecdotes it then led to another display highlighting the book stock on another relevant issue of ‘Strong Women’ with ‘Red Emma of Wolverhampton’, one of the key players in the suffragette movement and women’s rights at the centre.
It started with a visit to the Cheslyn Hay Library, we enjoyed a story and chose some books, but then I got left behind!
The volunteers who found me gave me a cuddle and took my photo to put on Facebook.
I look out of the library window waiting for you to collect me – please come soon!
This shows that the volunteers are caring and using initiative to fine a happy ending for the lost toy giraffe so as to reunite it with its owner. At the same time they used the opportunity to promote Cheslyn Hay library on Facebook.
Watch this space!