North Walsham human library bid rejected

A bid to use North Walsham's Memorial Park as a human library has been rejected by town councillors.

Helen Bacon had emailed the council asking to use the park on July 23 for a human library event, which sees people taking on the role of books which are taken out for up to 20 minutes and 'read' by borrowers who listen to their life experiences.

The aim of the scheme, which has been operating in Norfolk for over two years, is to challenge prejudice. 'Titles' on offer at a Cromer human library in February included Arranged Marriage and Lesbian Feminist Comedian.

Possible books at the proposed North Walsham event could include Young, homeless, according to Ms Bacon, who described herself as a development worker – short term and chaotic lifestyles – with the Centre for Empowering Practice.

Councillors expressed unease about the scheme, which Ms Bacon said would be organised by herself and the Butterfly Effect, a project for girls and young women aged 12-18 aimed at increasing self-esteem and self-confidence.

Councillor Ted Gadsden said: 'These young girls, some in a state of puberty, may be vulnerable. I don't think it's appropriate on those grounds alone.'

The council heard that the Yarmouth-based Butterfly Effect, which works with 22 girls and young women in North Walsham, has links with the Anglican Church organisation GFS Platform.

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But in a written statement to the council, Helen Gosling, who runs the Girls Friendly Society (GFS) based at North Walsham Parish Church, said they had not been consulted about the Butterfly Effect and were not affiliated with the project.

Mr Gadsden said North Walsham vicar Canon Derek Earis also had 'concerns and reservations' and didn't feel enough was known about the idea.

Councillors, with the exception of Mary Seward. voted not to support Ms Bacon's request.

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