Category Archives: Learning

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

 

 

 

 

New Year, New You 2017

Church Street Library held its ‘New Year, New You’ event on 18 January, offering customers the opportunity to try something out of the ordinary for 2017. We certainly provided that, attracting a large number of visitors over the course of the day.

Church Street Library: 'New Year, New You'. January 2017

The day unfolded as the three floored library transformed into zones.  The ground floor lending library became the Body and Mind Zone, offering customers a full body MOT, stop smoking advice, healthy eating tips, with health food store Nature Intended providing freebies. Our local Post Office was there too. We also had Westminster Registrars on hand to talk about the Nationality Checking Service. Heavenly music from the London Maritime Quintet filled the air. In total we had 15 stalls sharing the space.

The Maritime Quintet at Church Street Library for 'New Year, New You'. January 2017

One floor down, the Chillax and Breathe Zone filled with nine complementary therapy stalls, delivering foot and head massage, facial threading, hand massage and beauty pampering through to henna hand art.

The Community Space was renamed the Active Zone for the day, hosting modern dance and a local line dancing crew managed by Pina; the Learning Centre became the Learn Something New Zone, where we offered Arabic classes, a CV advice workshop and a taster in creative writing. Carol’s Organic Kitchen provided healthy sandwich burgers and Osman Khan Church Street Community provided tea and coffee.

Transport was arranged to bring Home Library Service readers to the library, offering them a chance to enjoy a concert by professional musicians the London Maritime quintet in the relaxed setting of the library. As a complete contrast our readers then enjoyed some more modern music and a demonstration of hip hop and street dance by a member of Rain Crew.

Breakdancing at New Year New You event, Church Street Library January 2017     Breakdancing at New Year New You event, Church Street Library January 2017

Comments from HLS members:

“A wonderful programme.”

“Loved the music – heard composers’ work I had not come across before.”

“Loved the breakdancing.”

“The young man dancing was so passionate about what he was doing and was charming.”

“It is wonderful to go out and meet old and new friends.”

[Elaine]

Reading Ahead for success

Over 200 Westminster readers won special recognition for completing the Reading Ahead challenge 2016.

Reading Ahead poster 2015-16Reading Ahead (formerly The Six Book Challenge) is a nationwide challenge from The Reading Agency inviting participants to pick six reads – anything from books and magazines to website articles – and record, rate and review them in a reading diary. The programme is designed to help less confident readers improve their reading skills and is run locally by Westminster Libraries and Westminster Adult Education Service (WAES), particularly encouraging readers with English as a second language to take part. Last year, over 48,000 people took part across the UK.

In Westminster, 746 people participated in this year’s challenge, with 221 receiving the completion certificate. For the third consecutive year Church Street Library led the field with 149 completers, thanks to a great partnership with WAES and Working Men’s College who deliver their Community ESOL classes at the library.

Westminster Reading Ahead awards ceremony, July 2016

Westminster participants celebrated their success at a special event in July with author Diane Sherlock, who said:

“I was much moved and impressed by your wonderful readers. And by what you all have achieved.”

We’d like to express thanks and congratulations to everyone who took part in the challenge, including the library and WAES staff members who worked so hard at every stage from initial promotion through to the final ceremony. And thanks to Diane for her enthusiasm and support. Here’s some pictures of the happy participants receiving their certificates:

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Councillor David Harvey, Westminster City Council Cabinet Member for Sports and Leisure said:

“Reading is a vital skill and it’s wonderful to see so many people in Westminster take part and develop their confidence. I hope that all participants continue to build on their success and help spread the joy of reading in their communities.”

If you or someone you know are interested in taking part next year, please contact your local library. And in the meantime, why not get your children into the reading habit – it’s not too late for them to join this year’s Summer Reading Challenge!

Westminster Reading Ahead awards ceremony, July 2016

[Debora]

Spring again

Recently the Home Library Service held its second ‘Spring into Spring’ health and information morning, this time at Pimlico Library (see previous event details).

HLS Spring into Spring event at Pimlico Library

On offer was the chance to sample hand massage, chair yoga (above), laptops and tablets (below), as well as a chance to talk individually to representatives from Open Age, the Health Improvement and Falls Prevention teams and the council’s Environment Team.

HLS Spring into Spring event at Pimlico Library HLS Spring into Spring event at Pimlico Library

We even had two new recruits sign up to borrow a laptop from the Westminster’s Council’s Community Computers Scheme!

HLS Spring into Spring event at Pimlico Library

There was a wealth of library, council and health information leaflets to take away as a reminder of new things learnt.

“Helpful and entertaining”

“Thank you for a wonderful day out”

[Elaine]

Spring into Spring

On a suitably sunny spring morning the Home Library Service held a ‘Spring into Spring’ event at Church Street Library for its members.

HLS Spring into Spring event at Church Street Library

There were guest speakers and demonstrations on:

  • falls prevention
  • keeping safe in the home
  • chair exercise
  • hand massage

HLS Spring into Spring event at Church Street LibraryThere was also the opportunity to use laptops and tablets to find out how to access library and council information online, and to get to grips with downloading free e-books, e-audiobooks and e-magazines from the library.

Everyone enjoyed the opportunity to find out useful information,(including transport options in Westminster) and to try something new. The chance to chat over a bite to eat was welcome as it is not easy for Home Library Service members to get out and about. New friends were made, phone numbers exchanged and members left with lots of information and new opportunities!

HLS Spring into Spring event at Church Street Library

“Thank you for a delightful day full of exciting information”

“ We learnt many useful tips about various areas where help is available…”

“ Lovely… good company… most helpful with email and using my tablet…”

“Please could we have more events like this – I feel 20 years younger being brought out to this sort of thing!”

The Home Library Service will hold its next Spring into Spring event at Pimlico Library on 21 April.

[Elaine]

Six Books to Reading Ahead

pim4Back in 2008 the Reading Agency launched the Six Book Challenge initiative which over the years has seen public libraries, colleges and prisons actively working with individuals to promote and encourage a love of reading (see our previous posts about the Six Book Challenge). Each year there is an official launch event and this year the event doubled as a relaunch with a change of name and a new look.

On 9 September a group of us gathered at No 11 Downing Street where Frances Osborne hosted the Reading Ahead 2016 launch event. The audience included public librarians, college and learning centre staff, prison librarians and publishers working in the sector (developing the Quick Reads and other simplified and graded readers). Reading Ahead benefits from ‘new look’ publicity with the focus moving to including a wider range of reading, such as web pages, magazine articles and poems.

6 Book Challenge event, Church Street Library, October 2015

Three weeks later, the equally impressive setting of Church Street Library‘s Community Space saw us celebrating the Six Book Challenge 2015 in Westminster. We’ve reached the gold standard this year with a record number of 800 registrations and over 200 completers. In recognition of this we received a Gold Award from the Reading Agency and organised two events in the Borough to celebrate this achievement, first at Victoria Library in July and then Church Street.

Library staff and volunteers planned the event making sure the invitations were sent, certificates written, book prizes ordered and refreshments available. The Reading Agency provided Reading Ahead material and we were pleased to welcome guest speaker Rachel Bladon, who has written many graded readers for learners of English. Some of the audience were particularly excited that Rachel was attending as they had read and enjoyed one of her books (one lady thanked her in person and read a poem she had written). Each completer received a certificate presented by Rachel and a book prize of their choice.

The event was a great way to end the Challenge for 2015 and we are already starting to work with partners to register people for Reading Ahead.

[Sue]