Ealing Council recently announced that residents and community groups have stepped up to manage several local libraries – including at Hanwell, where the team said: “We are really excited.”
Ealing Law Centre has taken over the day-to-day running of Hanwell Library under ‘community managed’ status.
Under the name Hanwell Community Library, Ealing Law Centre will start to manage the library on a volunteering basis from the start of the summer, while also offering community activities and events.
In support, the council’s library service is to continue to own and replenish book stock and will be giving training to each of the community groups.
In the video above, you can hear what Vicky Fewkes, supervising solicitor at Ealing Law Centre (Hanwell), thinks of the new challenge.
She told us: “It means a sense of community, it is somewhere where you are borrowing books, meeting people, where you have the opportunity to get involved with local groups. I know there is book groups and poetry groups that meet regularly here. And given that, at the moment, there are very few free spaces in Ealing for groups to meet, the library does not just mean a hub for the community, where you can borrow books, but also for other services that we are hoping to provide.
“It is quite exciting. Given that the option was closing the library or the community managing it, we are quite excited about managing it. Everyone that we are telling about it are very interested. On our initial consultation, we had 20 or 30 people saying they are willing to volunteer. So, it feels like people are really coming together to make sure the library is open.
“At the moment we are in the process of setting up our initial cohort of volunteers. So, if people want to get involved they just need to email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be setting up meetings to get volunteers and to start inducting and training.
“We are really excited that what we hope to do is keep the core library service open and operating, but also open further in the evenings and at weekends so that the community have access to the space on Sundays when maybe other places are not open. We are hoping that the expertise in the law centre will mean local people coming in will also find it easier to access advice and assistance as well. That is what we hope to add to what the library has previously offered.”
Residents who are interested in finding out more about what is planned or who would like to be involved should contact email@example.com by email or you can find out more on the website.
The decision to seek community partners for five of the borough’s 13 libraries was made by the council last July, following a 12-week public consultation involving surveys, events and drop-in sessions. With a 64% cut in the council’s funding from central government, the council has had to explore options of providing services in a different way. It has been facing the challenge with a programme of change called Future Ealing which, among other things, aims to empower local people to do more.