Yesterday we spent the day at the Library drawing out local needs as cartoonist, Ben, drew cartoon caricatures for free.
Among the people there many were seeking advice on Universal Credit, accessing the computers, reading for pleasure, and families accessing a family fun activity. It was a great opportunity to find out what people really wanted locally:
‘There is lots of anxiety for the future..Financial problems stop people accessing any service…Staffing is the major issue [in the Library Service]’
‘We truly appreciate and value the library service. It’s something my whole family use.’
‘These people don’t have access…to computers, activities, all sorts of things you take for granted.’
‘There is a lot of fear. We’re in a racial and cultural melting pot and infusion of new people has an impact.’
‘New languages reflect a change in the local community…Language you need to be able to communicate. It can lead you to be isolated if you can’t speak or read your own language.’
‘We need learning as well. Family learning, activities and fun, and it has to be close to people who don’t drive. Not too late or too early in the day, at the right times.’
‘It’d be good if we can have cooking classes, even making a sandwich – something the whole family can do.’
‘Birmingham will be unrecognisable in the future…more will be looking to London. Having HS2 has no social aspect.’
‘There isn’t much for older children to do. The Library is free it feels like a privilege.’
‘Schools can’t deal with it [demand for learning values, developing community ] We need our libraries to support it.’
We met around 50 people in the library over the course of the morning, including an adult education tutor, a martial arts instructor and a yoga teacher, all interested in what we do and possibly working with The Active Wellbeing Society. While discussing solutions for what we could do together, we made willow wands to wish for a brighter future! We’re looking forward to returning for more free fun in and near the Library.