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!


Happy National Libraries Day!

National Libraries Day 2014Today, 6 February is National Libraries Day – we’d love to see you at the library today!

If you haven’t been in for a while, pick your nearest one and come and find out what we have to offer.

We’re holding an online competition to celebrate both National Libraries Day and the fact that this week has been National Storytelling Week:

Can you tell a story in fewer than 140 characters?
If you’d like to try, post your story on Twitter before midday on Monday, making sure you include the hashtag #NLD132.
There are prizes for the most retweeted story and we’ll pick our favourite reading- or library-related story too.
Find out more, and join in the judging by retweeting your favourite story at #NLD132.

This Saturday in Westminster Libraries you can find:

In addition to these special events we have literally hundreds of other events going on every day of the week across our network of libraries. Keep an eye on the Forthcoming events page for one-off events and at the regular events section of your own library’s events page for regular activities.

Or just come in and have a look at our wide range of books for both adults and children, use the library computers, ask a question, borrow a DVD or CD, find out about local history at the Archives Centre, use our amazing special collections or use the study space we offer.

If you can’t get to the library today, have a look at our brilliant online resources – you can download e-books, e-magazines and e-audiobooks for free, and use the Guardian newspaper archives, Naxos Music Library and KOMPASS business directory (and much MUCH more) from home too.

And if you can’t get to the library at all because you are disabled or caring for someone at home, don’t forget that we have a Home Library Service for you.

There are loads of reasons to love libraries this National Libraries Day. Come and find out why!


Tweet a Short Story competition!

National Libraries Day 2014Are you feeling creative?

To celebrate National Libraries Day on Saturday 6 February and National Storytelling Week (30 January – 6 February) we have a short – very short – story competition!

  • Tweet a short story in 140 characters
  • It must include the hashtag #NLD132
  • Entries must be tweeted between midnight (12.00am) on Saturday 30 January and 12.00 noon on Monday 8 February

The winning story will be crowd judged:

  • £30 First Prize for the tweet with the most re-tweets
  • £20 Second Prize for our favourite library or book-themed tale

We will contact and announce the winners via Twitter: follow@WCCLibraries to find out more.

Comic Club update

There have been two recent special events, as well as the regular meetings:

Breaking into Comics 3. Image: Theo Mabayoje for Industry in the Streets (IITS) www.industryinthestreets.co.uk

Breaking into Comics vol 3

After two successful editions of Breaking into Comics our third and final volume for 2015 had to be something extra special.

Between Westminster’s Business Information Points, Westminster Reference Library and Marylebone Graphic Novel Club, we were able to gather a panel of industry experts specifically selected for their success at diversifying their skills in graphic novel production to engage new audiences:

  • Lewis Peake is an illustrator and filmmaker based in London who shared his experience both as an illustrator creating film storyboards and visuals as well as film production.
  • Adam Vian – illustrator, animator and Flash Games designer of SFB Games, he is also the man behind the delightful all-ages fantasy Long Lost Lempi.
    Tom Vian – As the programming half of SFB Games, Tom has been making games with the artistic half – his brother Adam – for over 13 years.
  • Nigel Twumasi – founder of Mayamada, a company that blends the best of Looney Tunes, Japanese TV and British streetwear. Nigel shared his experience as a a founding member of a startup developing a brand as both retailers and story-tellers. Mayamada produces their own line of clothing, comic books and even uniquely flavoured chocolate bars all bearing the faces of their own characters.

Comic book fans, budding writers, artists and those interested in creative literature were present to meet them and take part in our presentation and Q&A.

The Essence of Comic Book Storytelling. Image: Theo Mabayoje for Industry in the Streets (IITS) www.industryinthestreets.co.uk

The Essence of Comic Book Storytelling

Hosted by artist Shangomola Edunjobi and writer Emanuel Adelekun, this interactive workshop was aimed at anyone wanting to improve their written and artistic story telling skills.

Selling out with a week to spare, attendees were keen to see what new skills could be acquired in the art of storytelling and Shango and Manny delivered in full. The session was broken up into two main parts: The first half focused on certain principles and concepts that aided good storytelling, the second half focused on applying these concepts and producing a story that can be further developed.

Shango and Manny worked seamlessly together, and showed the creative processes behind both past and future short-story projects.
Keep an eye out for more workshops coming in the near future.

All above images: Theo Mabayoje for Industry in the Streets (IITS) www.industryinthestreets.co.uk

DMZThe next Marylebone Library Graphic Novel Club meeting is on Wednesday 2 September, on War in Comics. We’ll be discussing anything from Battlefield Action or Fightin’ Marines to DMZ or MCU’s Civil War.

We’ll also be reviewing previous meeting topics on race in comics, banned comics and as ever, discussions will be varied and relaxed so please join us for a conversation, some snacks and some good reads.



Record Breaking Fun

Record Breakers 2015 Boo Hiccup event at Maida Vale LibrarySince our last update, over 2,000 children have joined this year’s Summer Reading Challenge, ‘Record Breakers’. Children borrow books from the library, come back and tell us a bit about them and receive stickers and rewards for their books. Have you joined in yet? There are still 3 weeks to go so lots of time to get reading!

Here is a round-up of some of this week’s Summer Reading Challenge events in our libraries:

We had the amazing ‘Boo Hiccup’ and his magical comedy show at Maida Vale library (above). He was great – the children and grown-ups had lots of fun!

Mask-making from the Wallace Collection at St John’s Wood library
Mask-making inspired by the mythical creatures from the Wallace Collection at St John’s Wood library (above).

Mayfair library had a visit from Debutots: here is Isobel in action telling her stories, and the children having fun with bubbles.

Isobel at debutots session telling her stories and the children having fun with bubbles
If you like dancing, you’d love the events by Diddidance – below, Kerry is doing a dance with children at Charing Cross library, complete with pom poms!

Diddidance: Kerry doing a dance with children at Charing Cross library

Back at Maida Vale library, there was the “Wacky Vehicle” event. Children were tasked with making a vehicle of some sort with a large collection of recyclable materials. It’s amazing what you can do with toilet rolls, Pringle boxes and old bottles! Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most popular vehicle proved to be the rocket: there appear to be a lot of budding record-breaking astronauts at Maida Vale. Here are some cosmic photos of the results (including a bus!)

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Check out the events yet to come to see what’s on at your local library!

A world of imagination

SiggistardustFor the past several months, children and adults at St John’s Wood Library have been enjoying storytelling on Tuesdays with Sigalit Hart, aka Siggistardust, children’s artist and storyteller. Regularly and steadily, for about thirty minutes, images from picture books have come alive with sounds, gestures, facial expressions and movements.

Siggistardust has her fan base – members of our library (and some new ones!) – who regularly come to listen to her and enjoy being brought into the world of stories, of imagination… of magic! Children (and we have seen some adults as well) step eagerly into this world of magic, engage their creative side and sail away! It is a lovely journey with Siggistardust.

When Siggistardust is not engaged in her sessions at the libraries in the City of Westminster, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, as well as Primrose Hill Community Library, she conducts sessions on storytelling, after-school arts and craft, and one-on-one storytelling. She also finds time to write and illustrate her own books and is working on a film. For more information visit her website.

During the summer, Siggistardust will take a break from storytimes at the library, but she will run an event at St John’s Wood Library titled ‘Record Breaking Comics’, as part of the Arts Award program and Summer Reading Challenge. There will be wacky record breaking comic characters and also space for creating your own fantastical comic book. It is on Monday 10 August 2-3.30pm – See you at St John’s Wood Library!


Storytime in the library…

Siigistardust at Mayfair Library for National Storytelling Week

Siggistardust told some lovely stories at Mayfair Library as part of National Storytelling week last week. We heard about pirates and grandmas, witches and cats – a lovely way to spend a rainy afternoon.

During this week the children from St Georges Hanover Square School have been entertained in their class visits to the library by customers and friends reading to them rather than the usual staff.

This event was very kindly supported and sponsored by the Friends of Mayfair Library.


Storytelling at Mayfair Library

National Storytelling Week was celebrated at Mayfair Library last week with members of the community telling stories to our regular classes of children. We had an actor, a business man, a vicar, a registrar and a volunteer reading stories which ranged from Chinese myths and mouse romances to Shakespearean plays!

National Storytelling Week 2014 at Mayfair Library

We are very grateful to our customers who contributed to the work of the library and engaged with the children in this positive and meaningful way.