Tag Archives: volunteer

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!

[Mahbuba]

Big Friendly Volunteers!

Zack, one of our Summer Reading Challenge 2016 volunteersThis week on the Summer Reading Challenge we’d like to highlight the work of our volunteers.
Every summer, we recruit volunteers to help us deliver the Challenge to our customers. The Reading Agency (who design the materials for the Challenge) have a scheme for young volunteers called ‘Reading Hacks’.
Westminster Libraries take part in this scheme, so many of our summer volunteers are under 25. But we also have some lovely volunteers of all ages, so we have a great mix.

This summer across our 10 libraries we have around 70 volunteers helping us out with the Big Friendly Read. They join children up to the Challenge, explain how it works, then talk to them about their books when they return, giving out rewards to the children afterwards. The volunteers are excellent ‘reading role models’ for the children, encouraging them to read on to get their medal for 6 books.

One of our volunteers at Church Street Library is Zack Fry, pictured above. He’s 17 and this is the first time he has volunteered with us. He is really enjoying it. Some of the highlights for him have been the conversations he has had with children who have been doing the Challenge, he’s been impressed with what children have read. For instance an 8 year old boy read all of the Harry Potter series, and discussed them all in detail. Zack also likes the fact that although he hears about some of the same titles from different children, each child will get something different from the book and pick up on separate things from it. He was also surprised by being called ‘sir’ by one of the children!

Zack says that volunteering at the library for the Summer Reading Challenge, speaking to parents and children that he doesn’t know has definitely boosted his confidence. This is one of the great things about volunteering – we want the volunteers to enjoy themselves as well!

So a big thank you to Zack and to all our volunteers, the Summer Reading Challenge wouldn’t be the same without you!


Big Friendly Read - the Summer Reading Challenge 2016


[Rachel]

Vive la France in Church Street

French Culture Day at Church Street Library, July 2016Church Street Library recently held their French Culture Day.

The event was organised to celebrate the end of term for the hugely popular Children’s French Clubs held in the library, and also to mark Bastille Day which was a couple of days afterwards on 14 July.

French Culture Day was a joint effort between Debora who runs the clubs for the library and the clubs’ brilliant teachers, native French volunteers Devrim, Elodie, Fleur and Marie.

“What a wonderful event, I am amazed at the sense of community one can feel in this room where everyone is chatting enjoying the nice food and meeting new people. I think this is what a library should be about.”

There were French themed/speaking activities for around seventy adults and children. A children’s Treasure Hunt led by Elodie, Fleur and Marie took thirty very excited children on an adventure filled with clues throughout the library floor, finishing with rewards of prizes including candy bags and French books.

“My children had a lot of fun, I enjoyed with them to be taken around this library I never been to, so a great discovery. Everything looked very well organised and the French ladies are very experienced with children. Nice food too, so thank you!”

“My children come to the French Club and this is the best way of saying goodbye before the summer break. They really loved the club and this event today was so unexpected, thank you so much to all of you, amazing work.”

Devrim created a 45 minute bespoke French class for adults, covering a variety of tourist-style scenarios and concluding with useful handouts.

“Fantastic idea! I have never experienced a French adult class before, let alone for free! The quiches are amazing, can I ask for the recipe?”

The events were followed by homemade French style refreshments including the aforementioned quiches made by Fleur which were quickly reduced to crumbs!

“I’ve never been to this library and I will definitely come back for more events like this one! Please keep up the great work we had fantastic time.”

 

“I’m French and this level of FBD celebration is usually found in France but I’ve never seen it in a public space in Britain and free of charge. Thumbs up for Church Street Library and thanks to the great ladies for organising all this for us!”

“What a brilliant idea and perfect way to say au revoir!”

[Debora]

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Parties!

Children at four Westminster libraries have been partying in Wonderland, thanks to volunteer Maureen Pepper and Made in Libraries. In this blog post, Maureen tells us how it all came about.

“I have been a volunteer at Queens Park Library for a long time. Last year I was talking to a group of children at the library and was surprised to discover that none of them had read Alice in Wonderland. One had tried but had found the original text too hard. I thought if the book could be introduced to children via games, riddles and puzzles it would be very appealing and many would read it. I devised the first performance for Queens Park Library in November 2015 and worked with Bebie Waller of Actingworks and some of her staff to perform it.”

“Once we had done the show in Queens Park Library, it seemed a shame to pack away all the props etc and I heard about the possibility of support from Made In Libraries and the Westminster Wards budget for a further three performances at St John’s Wood, Church Street and Pimlico libraries. The performances (or perhaps the word workshop would be more appropriate) took place in May 2016.”

“I was particularly delighted with the reaction from some of the very young boys who took part at all three libraries. They were enchanted and engaged in a way that the Disney film could not touch. I was thrilled that children at St John’s Wood Library and Pimlico Library left clutching a copy of the book which they had borrowed with their own library card. Three mothers at Church Street were so delighted with the event that they insisted on helping us to wash the china cups and saucers afterwards! At St John’s wood, elderly members of the public were watching the tea party with delight through the window from the pavement and one came into the library to say how thrilled she was to see young children being introduced to a book that she had loved as a child.”

“All the performances attracted a diverse range of children – EAL speakers from Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, China, Malaysia and Japan, children with special needs, boys and girls. Everyone got involved in every activity, and the parents seemed to enjoy the performance as much as the children!”

[Maureen]

A green oasis and a lot of fun

On guerilla gardening by Richard ReynoldsThe community gardening bug has bitten! We’ve posted before about the Marylebone Library garden, but did you know that not far away there is another band of green fingered enthusiasts making a beautiful green space around Church Street Library?

[I can’t help noticing that this book is available to borrow from Church Street Library… coincidence? Ed.]

Meeting on Saturdays from 10.00 to 11.30am, but with people popping by for maintenance tasks throughout the week, the project is led by volunteer head gardener Mike Wohl. Here are some pictures taken last week in the sunshine – Mike’s the one in the blue t-shirt:

All are welcome, no expertise needed – come and water the strawberries, plant some cucumbers, bring your little ones and get your hands dirty!

[Debora]

Internship 1: Protecting theatre

Abby with her exhibition at Westminster City Archives.Abby Logan is a student of architectural history and archaeology at the University of Boston. She has spent two and a half months as an intern at the City of Westminster Archives Centre. In this, the first of two blog pieces, she takes us through the conservation process.


Working in paper preservation can be a messy job, as I found out on my first day! My task seemed simple enough: clean three boxes of programmes from the Theatre Collection; however, it involved a lot more dirt, rust and time than I thought it would. Using two smoke sponges, a brush and staple remover I was able to clean the programmes and prevent further damage caused by the rusty staples. At the end of each day I would have a substantial pile of dirt and staples from all the programmes I had cleaned.

Potash and Perlmutter - Queen's Theatre programmes, 1914. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

Potash and Perlmutter – Queen’s Theatre programmes, 1914. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

One of the hardest parts was determining when a programme was sufficiently clean because I was unsure how much of the dirt I was supposed to be able to get off. Eventually I learnt what was clean and what could not be taken off by the sponge.

Once all the programmes were clean it was time to move on to the sewing and repairing stage. Those that were once held together by staples needed to be put back together in some way. That was done by taking organic string and sewing the area where the staples used to be. This was a simple task for some of the programmes; however, for the majority of them it was not, because there was too much damage caused by the rusty staples.

Theatre programme. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

Theatre programme. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

Rust is incredibly damaging in that it creates holes and makes the paper weaker. To combat this problem a special paper called spider tissue is cut into an oval to cover the area that has been damaged by the rust. A paste is put on the paper and it then dries and fixes the holes, allowing the paper to be sewn together. Some other small tears are also fixed by this spider tissue so they do not tear further.

The repairs done to the programs can get more complicated if the spine of the programme is weak or there is more severe damage to the paper. These damages require spider tissue that has been cut specifically for the shape of the tear. Once all the damage has been fixed as far as possible, the programmes are then sewn together and the preservation process is complete.

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[Abby]

 

Takeover Day at the Archives

On Friday 20 November the City of Westminster Archives Centre, Maida Vale Library and St John’s Wood Library participated in the Kids in Museums‘ national initiative ‘Takeover Day’. This initiative aims to give young people the opportunity to participate in a work environment, assisting staff and volunteers in their work and contributing to the life of an organisation.

In the final of three posts today about #takeoverday we find out how the day went at Westminster City Archives:

At Westminster Archives we welcomed students from St Matthew’s CE Primary School, hoping to give them a flavour of future employment, a sense of achievement and a fresh perspective on the Archives Centre’s role within the community.

Our pupils worked at different stations throughout the day, allowing them to fully appreciate the variety of roles at in our establishment. At the reception desk pupils spoke with our readers and spent time assisting our Archives Assistant Michelle in rejuvenating our children’s book display. Assessing our book stock encouraged children to think creatively about ways of drawing readers into our building. Ishmael especially enjoyed working at reception; he “enjoyed welcoming the public and talking to them.”

Takeover Day at Westminster City Archives, November 2015: Children's display

Donning their lab coats our young workers had the chance to be conservators for part of their day. Georgia taught pupils about the special paste used to repair paper. Working in this significant role really appealed to our students, with Hanifa especially pleased at being able to “make a paste that would fix torn paper with the right material.”

Takeover Day at Westminster City Archives, November 2015

Acting as ‘History Detectives’ St Matthew’s School also spent time in our search room discovering the resources we have available to the public. Pupils looked at historic maps, photographs and learned how to use our microfilm readers; vital tools for any building and family historians. Looking at historic photographs of Old Pye Street gave our students the chance to see how the area local to their school has changed.

Kyode especially enjoyed learning about our resources and the microfilm reader;

“The ‘History Detectives’ job was the best. We got to use the microfilm and we looked at pictures (most of them from Old Pye Street) and on the map we found our school”

Pupils had the chance to demonstrate their knowledge to our volunteer Jelena, Cllr Tim Mitchell and the Deputy Lord Mayor in our closing ceremony.

Takeover Day at Westminster City Archives, November 2015: with the Deputy Lord Mayor

Staff and volunteers at Westminster Archives were really pleased to be able to work alongside the pupils of St Matthew’s CE Primary School for the day, demonstrating to them the varied and interesting roles of our employment. The positive feedback from staff and pupils alike highlighted the fun-filled day had by all! We were pleased to hear similar comments from those taking part in the day at Maida Vale Library and St John’s Wood Library and hope to participate in next year’s event.

Takeover Day 2015“This experience at the Archives centre has been amazing […]. Learning all these amazing jobs has inspired me to do something similar when I grow up, overall I love working in the Archives.”
-Esther

[Kimberley]