This Blog is reported retrospectively, we wanted to share with you some of the community engagement work that has been undertaken throughout December 2019 and January 2020.
This has involved Volunteer Recognition Events, Christmas Craft Events and Carol Services, Christmas Light switch ons and many more things.
Please read on…
Over the years we have always tried to promote the library service in more varied community spaces.
Through the autumn and winter of 2019, CSO Matthew Howard, along with Libraries Operational Manager Farida Mohamedali and Stock Services & Activities Officer Tracy Howard (picture below with Port Vale Club Mascot Booma the Dog) have been promoting the library service at Port Vale FC on certain match days.
We used a space in the Children’s Centre which is attached to the Football Club’s Family area, where we were able to speak to people about Staffordshire Library’s e-services and promote library volunteering in North Staffordshire.
It is great to be able to promote the library service in in a non-traditional space and speak to people who may not be aware of some of service now offered by the library service.
Talke Community Managed Library, managed by Kidsgrove Care Solutions, saw a great turn out recently for the launch of a new local history book.
Over 90 members of the public came into the library on a Saturday morning to see the launch of ‘Talke Pits – A Former North Staffordshire Mining Village’, by Paul Dunning. Published by Audley and District Family History Society. It is the author’s account of the history of the village since the mid-19th Century
The book has been so popular hat they have had to do a second re-print, and copies are now available to purchase from the library for £7.50.
It is very important for libraries to host events like this, as it highlights the buildings as local hubs in the community.
2019 has been a great year for Francesca, one of the volunteers at Silverdale Community Managed Library whose hard work, commitment and enthusiasm has been recognised through an Apprenticeship with Business Enterprise Support who manage Silverdale Library.
Instead of me recounting Francesca’s journey, please follow the link below to PM Training’s website and you can watch video where Francesca and Gemma Hammond (BES Contracts Manager) will tell you all about it in their own words.
I am really pleased for Francesca! It is always great to any volunteer move into paid employment or education, but to see Francesca move into it worth one of our partner organisations is even better.
Volunteers at Penkridge Community Managed Library entered into the Christmas spirit with gusto. They not only held a Christmas get together at the Haling Dene Centre (the partner organisation venue) where some volunteers met a very special visitor, but also took part in the local church’s Christmas Tree Festival and had a stall at the village Victorian Fair. The library Christmas tree was cleverly designed book case which held baubles with all the volunteers faces on plus book covers showing photos of their journey so far, including training and events they have delivered, as well as a recruitment poster. The volunteers also worked on a rota system to cover the stall on Saturday 7th December, where they sold books, homemade cakes and handmade cards and raised over £150.
Although transferring only in August, volunteers have certainly come together well as a team, meeting regularly, brainstorming ideas and sharing the workload. They have demonstrated great organisational skills and creativity and are already embedding themselves within the community by playing an active role in local events, raising the profile of the library and using these events to promote the volunteer offer.
The Friends of Perton Library Group have gone from strength to strength, being involved with several projects and initiatives over the last few months. They have raised funds to get a new notice board installed for the front of the library building, which is now attracting lots of passers-by and they have successfully applied to the People Power Fund to secure £2,000 to deliver a monthly STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) group. Members of the Friends Group worked with the Stock, Services and Activities Officer and the local PCSO to bid for and develop the programme to offer 10 – 15year olds the opportunity to explore Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths topics which now sees at least 12 participants every month. The Friends group have also launched a weekly ‘Places of Welcome’ coffee morning in the library, which provides a place for members of the community to come and see a friendly face and enjoy a cup of tea and a chat, attracting on average 8 attendees each week. Both activities allow participants the chance to socialise and meet new people in the safe, friendly environment of the library.
Friends of the Library Groups can make an important contribution to Staffordshire’s libraries by supporting and maintaining awareness of libraries within their local communities and promoting increased use. With over 15 volunteers now supporting the Friends of Perton Library Group, direct outcomes of their activities see at least 40 extra visits each month and the STEM sessions have prompted some great feedback.
- “George absolutely loves STEM group. He learns so much, in a fun, interactive way. Everyone who runs the group is friendly and patient with the kids. Since the last STEM session, which was going outside and looking at bugs, George has wanted to go for more walks to tell me about the creepy crawlies. The group is wonderful for the community.”
Kinver Community Library recently played host to a 5-week programme of workshops to promote well-being through creativity. ‘CreateSpace’ is a combined arts project supporting adults to create space for the arts in their everyday lives and has seen professional artists working in seven community venues across the Black Country and Staffordshire. The weekly workshops at Kinver were fully booked with 12 participants, both library users and some who had never visited before, taking part in a variety of activities including lino printing, self portraits and clay modelling.
By offering the library as a venue, volunteers at Kinver Community Library have again proved to be flexible, accommodating and proactive by actively publicising the sessions across the local community. As well as supporting the County Council’s outcomes and the Universal Health Offer, the feedback from the participants has been overwhelmingly positive and following on from the success, another course early in the New Year is planned
- “I have enjoyed all of it – every minute! I have learned so much and to be able to dabble into so many art forms has been ecstasy for me. I’ve gained confidence and definitely a sense of wellbeing. Thank you.”
- “It helps that it’s here and that it’s local. I wouldn’t have gone through the door of an arts centre – I might do now, but I wouldn’t have a couple of weeks ago. It all seemed conducive to thinking ‘oh, I’m going to do this…”
- “I was so buzzing the first time I came here. All the fears of walking in…just disappeared completely once we’d met (professional artists) Kim and Ben, they were so calming, and warm and nurturing, that I felt “oh, this is a really nice place to be”…and then trying something different, apart from all that lovely wellbeing that you got, you felt ‘I’m interested, I’m motivated for the first time.’ I was so glad I came.”
Volunteering at our CMLs can help you enter the world of employment. Recently Cheslyn Hay CML Volunteer Alex found work and credits his volunteering experience as a big part of the reason why. Alex says “Having been trained in the use of the library computer system, I was able to confidently showcase my ability to learn new modes of operation to potential employers. In addition, the library has given me experience with confidentiality and public records, something which my new job requires. Working in the library has also developed my customer service skills and has allowed me engage with people as an active member of my local community; an aspect which I am very proud of.”
Volunteering has many benefits. In addition to making new friends and supporting your local community, volunteering in our CMLs can be a huge help to anyone looking for employment.
On Wednesdays December 18th, 2019, members of the Lichfield Cathedral Chamber Choir and pupils from Three Peaks Primary School teamed up to stage a Carol Concert at Glascote Community Managed Library (CML). With rousing renditions of everyone’s favourite Christmas songs and festive fayre being served by the Library Volunteers, it was a wonderful occasion, attended by 160 local people. There were many lovely comments received on the day from members of the local community, and to see how Glascote CML has become a true community hub for local people of all ages is heart-warming.
This is a wonderful example of Community Managed Libraries working at their best, as true community venues, where local people can come and socialise, make new friends, learn new skills and engage in a range of events and activities which will help them to lead happy and fulfilling lives.
Our volunteers support the Library Service in many capacities in all our libraries across the county, and new volunteering opportunities are often arising. With Lichfield Library having recently celebrated a year in its new home of St Mary’s Church, it was felt that it would be a good idea to recruit some Volunteer Meeters and Greeters. The building is shared with both St Mary’s Guild and Lichfield Tourist Information Centre and, as such, many visitors require help and direction upon entering. We have already recruited 3 Volunteers to carry out the Meeter and Greeter role to assist visitors, and we hope to add to this number in the months to come.
This is a wonderful example of the changing face of libraries and how we are constantly adapting to meet new challenges. We couldn’t do this so successfully without our great team of volunteers.