How Libraries Help in Challenging Times
As the cost-of-living crisis continues to tighten its grip on the livelihoods of residents, people are turning to their communities for support and social interaction. Local organisations and charities have been coming together to help relieve the pressures of everyday living for people of all ages, incomes, and localities.
It’s fair to say that any help and support offered is welcomed with open arms, especially during challenging times.
At D-Tech we’ve been looking at the amazing ways in which the UK’s network of libraries has jumped in and opened its doors to those struggling whether due to the current energy crisis affecting the UK, or any number of challenging circumstances.
1. Warm Banks
Libraries across the country, particularly those in Suffolk, Devon, and Staffordshire have transformed their spaces into ‘warm banks’, providing some respite to those in need. Suffolk libraries have even gone as far as starting conversations about offering free warm drinks, running community fridges, and working with local food banks, as well as acquiring extra funding for social supermarkets.
2. A Home for Accessing Support
Shropshire Council’s local service has moved into libraries around the county for the winter season, with the aim of helping those in rural areas where access to some services and support from the council can be difficult for people to reach. Friendly and experienced team members will be on hand to offer a listening ear, advice, and information to residents. The demand for extra support in rural areas is proving prevalent, as since Shropshire Local began they have dealt with over 750 enquiries from around the county!
3. Fighting Against Hygiene Poverty
It’s not just energy bills, essential hygiene products are increasing in cost and becoming harder for some to afford, resulting in residents going without essentials such as feminine hygiene products. With 37% of people in Britain going without hygiene or grooming products, libraries throughout Devon and Torbay have partnered with Beauty Banks to become an official ‘Beauty spot’ donation points. That enables the public to donate beauty and hygiene products to local charities and people in the immediate area.
4. Job Seeking Support
As part of a government plan, Jobcentre Plus and Leicester City Council have partnered to provide help with job-seeking and benefits advice, particularly for those still feeling the aftershocks of the pandemic. Services help with CVs, interview coaching sessions, and advice on training.
5. Social Worker on Call
It’s not only UK libraries that are going above and beyond for their patrons. Across the pond, libraries are community hubs that provide vital community support to people experiencing particularly difficult times. The Long Branch Free Public Library in eastern New Jersey is one of the first to run a social network programme that provides support and social services for those who need intervention from the government and social work or therapeutic intervention.