As always, it’s been a busy few months for Westminster Libraries’ Bengali Service! Here’s a snapshot of what we’ve been up to:
Mental Health Facilitators / Ayurvedic Indian Head Massage training
This is a joint project in Church Street, in partnership with the Mosaic Community Trust, to train local residents – particularly those with English as a second language – to become mental health facilitators and massage therapists through a qualified training programme. In turn they are able to act as champions for their respective communities.
As part of the programme a ‘Community Celebration Day’ was held in December at Church Street Library – many people, including GPs and practice managers from the local health centres, attended to discuss patient participation and how local people can play an active role in terms of their care needs.
The project has 15 students and they will be graduating as massage therapists this month! The training will equip the participants with relevant skills to work as therapists or freelance in a salon. Some students demonstrated their newly acquired skills at the event in December and at Church Street’s New Year’s New You event in January.
A World In A Suitcase (AWIASC)
A World in a Suitcase is a storytelling project funded by the Wellcome Trust & WAES in collaboration with an author and a former BBC producer. Its aim was to foster closer relations, understanding and tolerance between communities through sharing their ‘World’.”
Myrna Shoa and Timuchin Dindjer have run six workshops with our English Speaking Clubs members at Church Street Library, using multimedia arts and story-telling prop materials.
Participants have created a visual record of their stories through collages, drawings, words and photos. All these culminated into an exhibition at WAES which was opened by the Lord Mayor of Westminster, Cllr Steve Summers.
Employment and Training Project at Queen’s Park Library
A great partnership has been forged with Queen’s Park Community Council and Paddington Development Trust’s (PDT) employment programme to introduce a new service at Queen’s Park Library.
The PDT Employment Adviser, Shah Alam, is based in Queen’s Park Library every Tuesday (10.30am-3.30pm). Shah works with Westminster residents, long term unemployed and job seekers, men and women over the age of 19, on a one to one basis. He sees them for a series of Information, Advice and Guidance sessions, a minimum of six and at a pace set by the client. Sessions can cover motivation and confidence, skills and referrals to training, CV creation, job search and applications, interview techniques and practical support.
Shah is enjoying meeting with different community members, people with different needs and expectations from a job and who are balancing different responsibilities of family and childcare and other commitments. Contact Queen’s Park Library to find out more.
Parenting Seminars at Queen’s Park Library
A series of parenting seminars were organised and delivered at Queen’s Park Library, in partnership with Westminster Early Help Team & Parenting and Fast Co-ordinator, Madhu Chauhan.
Fifteen local people have attended the seminars over three weeks learning about raising resilient happy children, instilling positive behaviours at home so they become happy, well-rounded and able to achieve their full potential.
Feedback ranged from great to excellent after all these workshops!
International Mother Language Day at Pimlico Library
Another successful event was held at Pimlico Library in partnership with Westminster Bangladeshi Association (WBA) on 16 February to commemorate International Mother Language Day – a day to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.
The event attracted over a hundred people into the library. We saw children making collages with signs and symbols of their native countries, with images of healthy food and key healthy lifestyle messages in different languages. Children also took part in a colouring completion and poetry performance as well as speeches about the importance of cultural diversity in language and why it is important to learn English in this multicultural city of Westminster.
This event was also supported by various organisations such as My Time Active, Westminster Memory Service, Health Information Co-ordinator and Health Trainers.
A Volunteer Success Story
Magdalena works at Queen’s Park Library helping out with Basic Computer Sessions and the English Speaking Club. She also helps colleagues with shelving.
Recently, she has acquired a job as she has been growing in confidence through her volunteering with the Bengali Service in Westminster Libraries. Congratulations Magdalena!
International Women’s Day
The Bengali Service also marked International Women’s Day with an event at Church Street Library, with some high achieving local female guest speakers to inspire the local women of Westminster as well as service providers ranging from the education, training, employment, health and wellbeing sectors.
Watch this space for more news!