As a team, the Community Support Officers regularly attend training so we can keep up to date with the latest knowledge available. Nothing is more important than Health and Safety training we attend. We have recently taken part in days training to understand how to train volunteers in the use of Evacuation Chairs.

Evacuation Chairs are in all our libraries that have more than one floor. In the case of an emergency evacuation of one of our buildings, the evac chairs allow those with mobility issues to be safely evacuated down the stairs. As two of our Community Managed Libraries now have more than one floor, this is something that we need to consider.

During the training we shown how to deploy the chair, assist someone into the chair and to safely take them down a flight of stairs. We were also trained in the best way to train others in the use of the chairs.

So What?

It is important that as staff responsible for supporting and training volunteers that we keep up to date with the most recent training available, particularly when it comes to H&S to ensure the CML Network are supported.

Steering the Way!

Last month saw the first Meeting of the recently transferred Clayton Community Managed Library’s new Steering Group. 8 volunteers who want to take a more active role in the management of the library attended the meeting. These volunteers will work alongside the partnership organisation who manage the library, Business Enterprise Support, to develop services in the library and ensure its smooth management.

During the meeting we discussed many things, from displays that could be done in the library to the creation of a Health and Safety team.

So What?

It is great to see volunteers from the surrounding community taking an active role in the management of their Community Managed Library, as it shows the amount of community interest in the library through the volunteers from that community.

Chief Executive of

Community Support Officer, Helen Farr, together with representative from the Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group, County Councillor Ann Edgeller and the Dementia Outreach Manager, were invited by County Councillor Jeremy Pert to meet with Jeremy Hughes – the Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s UK Society.

The main aim of the visit was to showcase some of the work that our organisations have been involved with, in getting Stafford Borough to being Dementia Friendly as a Community.  Library staff and volunteers in the Stafford Borough have received Dementia Friend’s Training to learn more about dementia and the actions they can take to help.

So What?

This was a great opportunity to celebrate success to date.  The Dementia Friend’s training is really valuable in helping our staff and volunteers feel able to support library customers with dementia.

New Year, New Look at Rising Brook Community Managed Library!

Rising Brook Community Managed Library have been successful in getting a £1,000 grant from the Stafford Borough Council Small Grants Fund, via the Community Foundation for Staffordshire.

The Library bid stated, “We plan to make the children’s area of the library more child friendly and thus be able to increase the number of children benefiting socially and educationally from their local library.”  Colourful furniture, new book storage, a colourful rug and a caterpillar have really brightened up the children’s library and made it much more attractive for local children!

So What?

This perfectly supports the Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarian’s (ASCEL) Children’s Promise vision that “Every child and young person visiting a public library is inspired by an exciting accessible environment which makes reading for pleasure irresistible.”

Buddy Up

When people need a little bit of help with technology, a few sessions with our Volunteer IT Buddies can make all the difference.  One satisfied customer said:

“I would like to express my appreciation for all of the assistance I have been given to help me become more proficient with using a computer.  I had a couple of sessions with the computer buddy and he was very patient and kind.  I now manage to check my emails and complete work projects with ease. Prior to this I was always asking my children for help. I was never taught about computers and the internet at school. I almost consider the library my second home, I enjoy the atmosphere and camaraderie so much.”

So What?

So many services are now online that a lack of IT knowledge can affect your ability to access the services you need.  Our IT buddies help to develop peoples’ confidence and competence, assist them to become more self-sufficient in their use of computers.

Back of the Net!!

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.

So What?

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.

Something to Talke About!

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.

So What?

It is very important for libraries to host events like this, as it highlights the buildings as local hubs in the community.

Well Done Francesca!

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.


So What?

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.

Community Christmas Spirit in Penkridge

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.

So What?

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.