Library project to tackle loneliness in Norfolk wins praise from Arts Council England

Visitors to Norwich's Millennium Library enjoying a knit and natter event as part of Norfolk County

Visitors to Norwich's Millennium Library enjoying a knit and natter event as part of Norfolk County Council's In Good Company campaign. Picture: Courtesy of Norfolk County Council - Credit: Archant

A pioneering Norfolk project to tackle community isolation has won praise from Arts Council England.

Visitors to Taverham Library enjoying a shared reading event as part of Norfolk County Council's In

Visitors to Taverham Library enjoying a shared reading event as part of Norfolk County Council's In Good Company campaign. Picture: Courtesy of Norfolk County Council - Credit: Archant

Norfolk County Council's Library and Information Service ran the Libraries Loneliness project to help older people feel more connected.

The project was part of a wider In Good Company campaign to promote ways people could connect with their neighbours and the community.

Jan Holden, head of Norfolk Library and Information Service, said she was delighted about the recognition.

She said: 'It is really fantastic that the great work our libraries do to support communities has been recognised by Arts Council England. It gives other libraries across the UK a good example of a great project.

Norfolk libraries have been praised for their project to help elderly people feel less isolated. Pic

Norfolk libraries have been praised for their project to help elderly people feel less isolated. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant


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'Our libraries are places where vulnerable people will always be welcome and our staff are brilliant at ensuring our service responds to their needs.'

The project was one of five mentioned in an Arts Council report called Stand By Me which looked at the contribution public libraries make to the wellbeing of older people.

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With a population of almost 900,000 residents, one in five people aged over 65 in Norfolk are believed to suffer from loneliness.

Since the libraries started their part of the project last November, they have almost doubled the number of activities for older people, from 57 to 113.

Visitors are given a warm and welcoming atmosphere where staff listen and interact with visitors, offer weekly tea and coffee sessions and a timetable of regular activities.

The activities include 'Just a Cuppa' tea and conversation meet-ups, Colour Me Calm colouring sessions where participants can talk as little or as much as they like in a relaxed atmosphere, Knit and Natter and Scrabble.

Margaret Dewsbury, councillor and chairman of the council's communities committee, said: 'It is great that our loneliness project is leading the way nationally and helping to ensure that people in our Norfolk communities feel less isolated.'

The report praised the library project for aligning their activities with the council's wider goal of tackling loneliness.

Visit your local library for details of the events in your area, or visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/yourlocallibrary

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