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Heath Hayes Community Library formally celebrated its new status as a community managed library with an opening ceremony on Friday 17 February at 3.00pm.

Heath Hayes Community Library is one of eight libraries which are being provided by a team of local volunteers under the management of South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (SSSFT) and supported by Staffordshire County Council (SCC). 

Since becoming a community library in August, over 5000 items have been issued and over 70,000 people have come through the doors.  There have also been 65 new members joining up, an increase of 30% on the previous year.

Jean Shepherd, Volunteer Coordinator at Heath Hayes Library, says “There is an amazing group of volunteers, who each bring different skills to the job. They have been passionate about keeping the library open for the community of Heath Hayes and have been rewarded for their efforts by the grateful thanks of the library users, some of whom are unaware that we are volunteers and most have never worked in a library before.

“It has been extremely satisfying to be able to help customers with book loans, using the computers and answering all sorts of queries, not always library related.

“Although we have a number of reliable volunteers, there is still room for more and anyone who considers joining us will enjoy the experience, as we have, and will enable the library to develop new services and functions for the community not provided at the moment.”

The new arrangements allow Heath Hayes Library to continue to play a strong role in the local community.  Library services such as book loans and information provision are still a core part of what’s on offer, but the intention is to work with the community to develop other functions based on what local people want and need.

Representatives from both SSSFT and SCC, together with many of the volunteers, were joined by invited guests and local people to celebrate Heath Hayes library and view a range of  displays promoting the activities on offer.

Mark Cardwell, Social Care Professional Lead, SSSFT, said “We are really excited to be in partnership with the community in Heath Hayes and look forward to working with them to provide an excellent library service.  We are committed to helping people maintain their mental wellbeing and see the opportunities this partnership provides such as volunteering, learning and socialising as key elements of this”

Gill Heath, Libraries Chief at Staffordshire County Council said:  “Libraries play a vital role within local communities and we’ve been working hard to make sure our libraries are sustainable and offer local communities the activities they need.

“This is a great example of how local volunteers are coming forward and making such a difference in running their local library, with support from organisations such as South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. They know the local community better than anyone, and are able to identify and introduce new services to meet their needs.  Libraries are about much more than just books these days and are places where people meet, learn, and access different services and activities.  

“Volunteers play an important role in all our libraries -  helping and advising customers, organising books and resources and helping out with reading groups, bounce and rhyme sessions for children, ‘Knit and Natter’ groups and job search activities.  We’re always looking out for more volunteers, so anyone interested in becoming a volunteer can always contact their local library.”

Anyone who is interested in volunteering should contact, or ask for more information in the library.

For more information contact: Tracy Thompson, Service Development Manager, 07811226607.

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