By Leah Conway –
Kirklees Libraries has won the national Library of Sanctuary Award. They are the first library service in the Yorkshire and Humber region to receive the prestigious award.
The Library of Sanctuary Awards recognise the work of library services who provide a welcome and safe space for people fleeing conflict, changing climates and persecution. City of Sanctuary works in partnership with major refugee organisations and run the awards.
Kirklees Libraries have provided a welcoming space for migrant communities through their Sanctuary book collection that highlights books written by and about sanctuary seekers.
They have supported the language development of people of all ages who do not speak english as their first language by hosting ‘knit and natter sessions’, chats over coffee, conversation cafes and creating dedicated resource packs
The libraries also host a wide range of activities that promote inclusion and diversity. Team’s across kirklees have been actively involved in national events such as Windrush Day, Black History Month and Interfaith Week.
Kirklees Libraries have also removed barriers such as the requirement for ID to join a library for all customers and the removal of overdue item fines.
The libraries have made their services more accessible by producing materials in different languages.
Sanctuary seekers can also get Library introductory tours and offers of bus passes, not only enabling them to enjoy library resources but enables people to become volunteers at their local library.
All these measures to improve the accessibility of Kirklees Libraries have helped refugees integrate into the local community and strengthened the bid for the Library of Sanctuary award.
‘Much needed sanctuary’
Councillor Paul Davies, Cabinet Member for Corporate said: “Fleeing violence and conflict can have a devastating impact on people’s lives. I am therefore delighted that Kirklees Libraries have achieved Library of Sanctuary status in recognition of their ongoing work to support refugees and asylum seekers to integrate into our communities.
“We join a small number of library services across the country that are providing much needed sanctuary to people joining our towns and cities in what can be very difficult circumstances. Many congratulations to the team.”
Carol Stump, Chief Librarian and President of Libraries Connected said: “Gaining the Libraries of Sanctuary award is a huge achievement for our staff, and I’m extremely proud of the team who have worked with a range of partners and organisations to ensure sanctuary seekers receive the welcome and support they need across Kirklees.
“Positive feedback we’ve had from the assessment panel and sanctuary seekers themselves demonstrates the difference that this has made to people’s lives, and I’m absolutely delighted that we are one of the first authorities in the country, and the first in our region, to receive this award.”