Mental Health Awareness Week 2022

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week 9 to 15 May.

Did you know….

1 in 6 adults experiences a common mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression

1 in 5 adults has considered taking their own life at some point.


Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

Here are some ways you can maintain positive mental health:

  • Getting professional help if you need it
  • Connecting with others
  • Staying positive
  • Getting physically active
  • Helping others
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Developing coping skills


What can we do to look after our mental health and wellbeing?

Well, we could start talking!

Talking about our feelings isn’t a sign of weakness. It is the step we need in order to take charge of our wellbeing and doing what we can to stay healthy. Talking about our feelings can help us stay in good mental health and deal with times when we feel troubled. Just being listened to can help us feel supported and less alone. And it works both ways. If we open up, it might encourage others to do the same.

We know, sometimes it is not easy to describe how you are feeling. Many of us feel more comfortable when these conversations develop naturally – maybe when we’re doing something together within a social group, or with a loved one.

It may feel awkward at first but give it time. For example, why not attend Queen’s Park Library’s Coffee Morning? Click the link for details:

Alternatively, you can see what other events our libraries and archives are running, that you may want to attend: 



Some useful websites or contact numbers:


Paddington Library’s Mental Health survey

Let’s take our questions to the public. Would you answer 3 questions centred around mental health and loneliness?

Closes this Sunday, 15 May 2022.


Follow us on our social media platforms:
Twitter: @wcclibraries
Facebook: @wcclibraries
Instagram: @wcclibrariesandarchives


Help us, Help you!

Let Libraries make a difference in your local communities.

 Reminder: World Mental Health Day is on Monday 10 October 2022.


Food Review: Vegetable Masala by Sara at Paddington Library

Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products and a philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals. Any individual who follows the diet or philosophy is known as a vegan. This cultural and lifestyle movement is proving very popular amongst our customers and even staff.

In celebration of World Vegan Month, my colleagues and I wrote food review blogs about the vegan dishes we have cooked and ate. As a meat-eater, having the opportunity to cook and eat vegan dishes intrigues and excites me.

To start, I chose a Vegetable Masala as my first dish- it is easy to prepare and cook- and includes a vegetable I am not fond of but wanted to eat again- Cauliflower. This recipe was from the cookery book Healthy Indian Cooking for Diabetes by Azmina Govindji & Sanjeev Kapoor- in association with Diabetes UK– which can be borrowed from Paddington Library or be bought from Amazon.

Yes, I know this recipe wasn’t taken from a vegan book, but I would say that anyone can enjoy this meal whether you are a curry-lover, vegan or like me; someone wanting to learn a new recipe, have a change from eating meat and want to include more vegetables in my diet.

As I said, I was excited to make this dish- all the ingredients or alternatives were sourced from Tesco, but you can go to any supermarket or local Halal or Asian store that sells what you will need, especially the spices. The preparation time was approximately 30 minutes and the cooking time 40-50minutes. The masala paste had a wonderfully earthy and warm aroma that came from the blender as I lifted the lid. The peel that was left over from the cauliflower could be used in another meal i.e., soup or as a side to the main course, but along with the carrots and ginger peel, it will be given to a colleague so they can add it to their compost heap. So, all in all, the vegetable isn’t going to waste.

Dinner was comforting and delicious; not spicy but creamy due to the coconut milk used instead of water. To serve the Vegetable Masala, I also bought plain rotis. The sauce was thin, which allowed my mum, brother and I to dip the rotis in- you could say, it was like having a soup. If it were thinker, I would have served white basmati or brown rice with it.

I would cook the dish again but reduce the amount of lemon juice added or instead, try it with lime juice as it is a smaller citrus fruit. I would also like to use aubergines and spinach next time and see if that works well with the masala spices. The leftover masala was frozen, so I could use for another meal and because I made plenty, I offered my colleague some as well.

Sara’s verdict:

Enjoyment: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Preparation Time: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Cooking Time: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Spice level: ⭐⭐

I have included the recipe below for you to try at home. Alternately, there is another Indian cookery book called The Indian Vegan Kitchen by Madhu Gadia, which can be borrowed through our online resource- the Cloud Library app.

Now, get stuck in and enjoy!

The Ingredients and the alternatives

2 teaspoons olive oil or *pure coconut oil

1 medium sized onion, sliced

500g cauliflower, broken into florets (depending on the size of your cauliflower, you may need more than one)

25g peas (I put a whole tin- 175g- as I like peas)

1 medium sized carrot, diced or 3 small carrots (I preferred having them chopped)

5-6 French beans, chopped (I used a handful- so about 20)

1 teaspoon salt

½ tamarind pulp or *lime juice (I used lemon juice as I couldn’t a lime, but vinegar with a little sugar can do the trick)

2 tablespoons of fresh chopped coriander leaves or *dried coriander leaves (stir in before serving)

200ml of water or coconut milk*

*alternative ingredients

For the Masala

2 tablespoons of grated fresh coconut or desiccated coconut

½ tablespoon ground coriander

½ tablespoon of red chilli powder (All I could find was extra hot chilli powder, so I used ½ teaspoon measurement)

½ tablespoon garam masala powder*

¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon minced ginger and garlic

*If you cannot find garam masala powder, there are substitutions- 2 of which are:

Option 1:

1 tablespoon Cumin powder and ¼ teaspoon Allspice

Option 2:

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 ½ tablespoon ground cardamom

1 ½ tablespoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon nutmeg

Cooking Method

  • Grind all the ingredients for the masala, adding water as required, into a fine paste
  • Heat the oil in a non-stick Kadai or saucepan and sauté the onion on a medium heat until golden.
  • Stir in all the vegetables one by one. Add the salt, 200ml water* and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and cook until the vegetables are tender.
  • Stir in the tamarind* pulp, the masala paste, then simmer for 2 minutes. Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve with plain rotis or whole-wheat rotis.

For more information about Diabetes visit the NHS website:

For advice or for other health information, visit the Oneyou Westminster website.


November is Movember month.

Movember (an annual event) involves the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men’s health issues, i.e. prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men’s suicide.  It’s serious business!

Globally, men are dying six years earlier than women and from largely preventable causes. To all the men out there concerned about their health, a friend’s or loved one, take action to live healthier, happier and longer lives.

Guys-Some tips for Life

  1. Stay Connected– Talk to the people you care about and make you feel good. Check up and make time for them.
  2.  Talk More– Listening sharing and being there for someone can help be life-saving.
  3.  Know Your Numbers– They say at 50, you should talk to a doctor about prostate cancer but seeking advice earlier on in your late 40s never hurts. For a good overview on prostate cancer see:
  4. As November says “Know Thy Nuts” Simple! -Do regular checks and if something isn’t right, see your doctor.
  5.  Move More– add more activity to your daily routine e.g. cycle to work or go for walks in the park.

Helpful NHS Information

For more information on the symptoms, diagnosis and treatments of testicular cancer and prostrate cancer, see the NHS website:

Testicular cancer

Prostate cancer

For useful contact numbers if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts again see the NHS website

We need to Talk. We need to listen.

Recommended Video to watch

Lloyd Pinder gives his honest story discovering and living with prostate cancer. It encourages all men to get checked.

So, what can you do to raise money?

  • Grow a moustache for the month of November and raise money for charity
  • Run or walk 60km over the month. That’s 60km for the 60 men we lose to suicide each hour, every hour across the world.
  • Host a Moment (virtually or in person) host an event to raise money
  • Mo your own way (do your own thing to raise money)
  • Movember in the workplace (get your building/ team involved in raising money)

World Alzheimer’s Month

World Alzheimer’s Month is observed in September every year and was launched in September 2012. The decision to introduce the full month, to contain the existing World Alzheimer’s Day, was made to enable national and local Alzheimer associations worldwide to extend the reach of their awareness programmes over a longer period of time.  Below, we have put together some great resources to help increase awareness. If you’re not sure of the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, you’re not alone. Here’s a link to simple explanation to understand the difference. For some more information on attitudes to dementia, this  World Alzheimer Report 2019, analyses the findings of the world’s largest survey on attitudes to dementia, as well as including expert essays and case studies from across the world.

Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme, is the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia. It aims to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition. Check this link below for more information. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia and also the best understood. It is thought to be caused by the formation of abnormal deposits of protein in the brain. See this video provided by the Alzheimer’s society for a better understanding.


Rhythm for life – towards better health and well-being

The world is more complicated than ever and life around us seems to move at an ever faster pace, statistics show that anxiety and depression have risen by a third in just over four years – it’s clear that we are facing a significant and growing problem. Discovering new ways to target these issues present great challenges, but also, opportunities. As technology continues to dominate our lives and change our behaviours, research shows there are actions we can take to tackle these issues, one of which is through drumming.

Something to consider

The roots of drumming are ancient, archaeologists have discovered evidence that people have used drums for millennia; numerous small cylindrical drums have been excavated in southern parts of Turkey and Iran dating from 3000 BC. Drumming was important then and it is now, think about your favourite song or musical composition, is there a drum beat or distinctly rhythmical element central to its structure? Some anthropologists believe that rhythms and sounds may have been a precursor to the languages we speak today and used as a form of communication.

Learning to drum and setting out on the musical journey of rhythm and pulse can be enjoyable and therapeutic, here are five reasons why you should come join the party…

1. Drum out stress and anxiety
Research shows that participating in group drumming activities boosts the body’s production of endorphins, the ‘feel good’ hormones. Experiencing a group drumming session can be powerful and transformative, promoting feelings of being energised and focused, it’s hard to engage with other things like your smart phone. Research also shows that participants who had blood pressure checks before and after a one hour drumming session displayed a reversal in stress producing hormones, proving that this is a powerful and transformative way to manage stress and anxiety.

2. Maximise your brain function
Your brain loves it when you drum. Music is a powerful way to engage your brain in a full neurological workout; the visual, auditory and motor cortices work hard during a group drumming session. Drumming promotes synchronous brain activity, getting both sides of the brain working together whilst improving concentration, coordination and problem solving skills. The power of drumming is especially noticeable in people living with dementia and acquired brain injury. Therapeutic Instrumental Music Performance (TIMP) programmes show transformative results in stroke survivors and their rehabilitation, and music has been proven to be a powerful means of communication for those living with dementia.

3. Boost your immune system
There is growing evidence that drumming can be linked to a reduction in pro-inflammatory immune response in the body, helping to induce the opposite effect through increasing the positive anti-inflammatory defences your body needs to stay healthy. According to cancer specialist Dr Barry Bittman (who conducted extensive research in the fields of music and neurology), group drumming has the potential to increase cells associated with killing cancer and viruses. Research conducted at The University of Tokyo showed the number of white blood cells increased significantly, the slowing down and synchronisation of breathing during the sessions improved blood flow.

4. Feel more connected
With the constant quest for super speed broadband and the latest smart phone, do we still have the capacity to make real and meaningful connections to people and places? Drumming is a great way to feel connected to others without speaking or acting, but solely through the non-verbal pulsating rhythms created in a group. Meet new people, laugh, listen, reflect and be part of creating an incredible shared experience for yourself and those around you.

5. It’s fun!
Injecting fun into your life is a serious business! People who are deprived of fun and recreational experiences are more likely to commit crimes, be less productive and have low self-esteem. Drumming is one of the most fun and rewarding things to do – why not give it a try?

Starting in January 2018 we will be holding lots of free drumming workshops in Westminster Music Library, no experience necessary! Contact us to find out more:
020 7641 6200

Westminster Music Library

Learning and working together

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

Community Celebration Day at Church Street Library, December 2016Community Celebration Day at Church Street Library, December 2016

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.

A World in a Suitcase (AWIASC) exhibition, 2017
A World in a Suitcase (AWIASC) exhibition, 2017 – click to view the rest of the images

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.

SShah at Queen's Park Library, giving employment advice and supporthah 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.

Parenting seminars at Queen's Park LibraryFifteen 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.

International Mother Language Day at Pimlico Library International Mother Language Day at Pimlico Library

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!


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.”