Impro For Elders – back by popular demand!

 

Back by popular demand, Impro For Elders is starting again at Church Street Library! The project is a 8-week pilot programme starting tomorrow, Wednesday 17 May, 3.45pm to 5.15pm (ask at the library for more details).

This grew out of a project delivered by Improbable Theatre in partnership with Church Street Library between November and December last year. It was funded by a local community fund, Create and Arts Council England. Directors Andre Pink and Caroline Williams worked with over twenty 60+ people local to the Church Street Ward to explore improvisation and storytelling, aiming to give older people from the local area access to the uplifting shared experience of improvising together. You can read about what happened last year on a previous blog post, Improbable Impro.

Impro For Elders appeared at The Cockpit in a double bill with Improbable’s improvised show Lifegame on 30 November and 1 December 2016. In a special version of Lifegame, one of the Impro For Elders participants was the on-stage guest each night.

We received some fantastic feedback from both participants and audience members:

“What I have gained out of it is immense and given me positive energy which I was certainly lacking before taking part in the project.”

“I actually feel years younger! I was surprised at how much energy I had and how my body could do things I thought I could no longer do.”

“I thought it was the best theatre experience I’ve seen and felt this year. Inclusive, moving, funny, full of possibilities” 

“A thoroughly enjoyable evening – both shows were filled with joy, humour and passion. I always enjoy Improbable performances, and the Impro For Elders concept is a fantastic one.”

Given the extraordinarily successful outcome and subsequent demand from local older residents, Andre Pink from Dende Collective has offered to continue on a voluntary basis whilst Improbable will be sponsoring him to make it more sustainable.

The project will work again with the same group along with new participants. Visit the Dende Collective’s website  for more information about them and their upcoming events.

‘As a company rooted in improvisation, we believe that it is a deeply democratic art form that fosters a sense of community and empowerment amongst its participants and audiences alike. In an age of increasing digital complexity it is determinedly live, and about the people who take part, their energy and what they offer.’ Ben Monks, Improbable Executive Director.

Visit Improbable’s website for more information about them and and their upcoming events.

Debora Gambera (Church Street Library)

Ben Monks (Improbable Executive Director)

Dementia Awareness Week 2017

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Hot on the winged heels of Mental Health Awareness week (thank you to all colleagues and partners who helped get that information out there) we are promoting Dementia Awareness Week (14 to 21 May 2017), an Alzheimer’s Society initiative, in our libraries.  There are so many myths around Dementia and that is why we recommend the Reading Well books on prescription dementia list.

Dementia display QP Library

Book display at Queen’s Park Library

This is a varied carefully chosen collection consisting of evidenced and researched information books, alongside fascinating and moving personal histories. It also includes a children’s picture book to help younger readers understand beloved members of their families who have been diagnosed with one of 100 conditions that come under the umbrella of Dementia.  Check out the craft book for creative ways of engaging those living well with Dementia.  It is a helpful and uplifting collection.

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The second initiative I want tell you about is the Dementia Friends sessions happening this week which are run by a trained Dementia champion. They are relaxed and informative sessions that engage us in such a way that unhelpful fears and misinformation around the subject can be openly discussed and real facts and practical tips on creating Dementia friendly services and how to reach out and support those living well with Dementia come to light.

Details of the Dementia Friends sessions this week:

These sessions are open to everyone and I urge you to recommend them or even come along yourself.

Kate Gielgud
Health Information Co-ordinator

Cityread London event at the Wallace Collection

Throughout April, Londoners have been celebrating Cityread London by reading 2017’s title ‘Prophesy’ by S.J. Parris, an historical thriller set in 1583 in the middle of Queen Elizabeth I’s  reign. And every April there are some amazing events across the capital connected to the that year’s book.

Last month, some of the St John’s Wood Library customers were lucky enough to attend a special Cityread London event with the Wallace Collection at the Penfold Community Hub. Sarah, a community officer at the Wallace Collection, not only introduced us to their treasures but also brought along replicas and reproductions of the collection’s Elizabethan influences.

We admired a portrait of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who was Elizabeth I’s close friend and favourite – everyone even got a postcard to take away. We also looked closely at a painting by Paul Delaroche titled Hippolyte depicting Edward V and the Duke of York in the Tower. The group also got to try on some replica armour. It was widely agreed that armour is not as heavy as it looks and much more comfy to boot.

This snapshot into the wealth and richness of the Wallace Collection was truly inspiring. If you haven’t been before we encourage you to visit soon; it’s an outstanding local asset and free! For more information such as opening hours and you can also view their paintings online at the Wallace Collection website.

[Amy]

Mental Health Awareness Week – Surviving or Thriving?

mhaw17-main-banner_0Read, learn and connect with us during this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week –

Libraries’ positive contribution to the mental well-being of the population is well documented – see the Arts Council’s publication on ‘The health and wellbeing benefits of public libraries.’ 

I say population and not just customers or residents as it has been said that living near a library and, indeed, just walking past a library has a positive effect on one’s emotional and mental well-being.

Of course we in libraries are keen to invite people to come through the doors and experience the well-being benefits first hand. The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is ‘Surviving or Thriving’ which encourages us to look at our physical and mental well-being.

mental-health

Some of our offers are more obviously health focused, our health information displays encourage us to feed our brains with the right food and suggest ways to be more active, as well as giving information on managing and living well with chronic conditions.  Poor physical health can be a drain on our mental and emotional strength and poor mental health can lead to inactivity, poor diet and so the cycle continues.

One way to break cycles of unhelpful thoughts and behaviours is cognitive behavioural therapy and Westminster has a free psychological therapy service, Westminster Talking Therapies.

In order to help people decide whether this service is for them or for support while waiting for a referral, or during, or after therapy, the libraries’ Reading Well Books on Prescription collections are recommended by GPs and health promotion specialists. A new collection put together to support those living with chronic conditions will be launched in July this year.

The Reading Well Books on Prescription initiative is part of our Bibliotherapy offer. Our libraries host read aloud groups in partnership with The Reader Organisation. These facilitator led ‘Share a book’ groups meet every week and give members the opportunity to join in reading aloud from good literature and discuss what has been read over a cup of tea or coffee or just sit back, listen and enjoy the company.

lavenderIt is encouraging to look at how we in libraries contribute to what is called ‘the wider determinants of health’  All the things in our lives that support us, family, work, employment, housing, finances, education, lifelong learning, English classes, coffee mornings, knitting groups, activities for children and teenagers, employment advice, business information points for entrepreneurs old and young, all these available in libraries.

Libraries have always been inspirational and aspirational encouraging us to ask for more learning and knowledge and skills to create meaningful lives for ourselves and our families.

There are also some very good enjoyable fiction books available free to borrow hard copy or online! See our new book displays or log on to the 24/7 library. Did you know that reading for as little as six minutes can improve mental well-being?

See what you can do this Mental Health Awareness week to look after your own mental well-being, eat well, sleep well, go for a walk in one of our gorgeous parks and yes, visit your local library.

Kate Gielgud

Health Information Co-ordinator

 

 

 

 

Free Comic Book Day on Saturday 6 May 2017

Pop in to your local Westminster library on Saturday 6 May for Free Comic Book Day!

Free Comic Book Day is an international celebration of all things comics – taking place on the first Saturday in May, it is a day where new titles are released, and comic shops giveaway free issues – we are also taking part, courtesy of the grand folks at Forbidden Planet who are providing the comics.

Free Comic Book Day is perfect for both hard-core collector fans and those whose interest has been piqued for the first time.

Enthusiasts of the comic book / graphic novel form will tell of the inventive artwork to stun and amaze – the array of characters, from superhero to regular Joe. The different universes on offer and running plot lines that will be hard to forget.

Explore all this and more at one of our libraries, please ask staff for your free comic book. We have three titles to give out, while stocks last – head on in before missing out.

Discover characters including Wonder Woman, DC superhero girls plus look out for the Forbidden Planet exclusive variant of the Doctor Who title too, featuring the Doctor with new assistant, Bill.

Why not check out the graphic novel selection or the DVDs available while you are there and see what else your local Westminster library has to offer?

[Matthew]

The World Book Night Cycle Tour

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Debra from Queen’s Park Library and Maureen, a regular volunteer, set off from the Library on Saturday loaded up with books to give away for the World Book Night 2017 event .

Unfortunately, in the rush to get to the lunch club at St Peter Elgin Avenue, the actual World Book Night book, ‘Of Mice and Men’ was left behind.

So while Maureen did brisk business giving away the books at the lunch club, Debra whizzed back to the library and picked up a stack of the missing books. This worked out well as several copies were handed over to startled members of the public at bus stops and traffic lights along the length of the Harrow Road.

After the lunch club, bikes were reloaded and Maureen and Debra headed over to the Spring Sale at WECH’s community space for more chatting about books and giving away titles to happy recipients.

Finally, the pair headed back to the library with the few books that were left.

It was a great way to connect with people from the community who do not (yet) use their local library.

 [Debra]

Easter fun at Maida Vale Library

Maida Vale Library hosted several events for children during the Easter holidays. We had an on going Easter egg hunt for pictures of eggs hidden around the library, and a library quiz.

We had two craft events –

During one session, the kids were able to blast off with super rockets which they made from recycled materials.

The following week we had an all day event making pop up Easter cards and Easter bunnies from hot chocolate jars.

A hopping good time was had by the many children who attended…!

We have events in our libraries for all ages, check out our Westminster libraries events page to see what’s coming up.

                            [Simon]