London Libraries Development Agency granted £119,000 to develop library services for asylum seekers and refugees

The London Libraries Development Agency (LLDA) has been awarded £119,000 by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to develop services for refugees and asylum seekers in five London boroughs. This project will build on work already undertaken in the London Borough of Merton to develop services in Brent, Camden, Enfield, Merton and Newham.

Shiraz Durrani, of Merton Libraries commented, “The Welcome to Your Library Project is based on one of Merton’s earlier projects, Services to Refugees and Asylum Seekers, for which we were awarded the Libraries Change Lives Award in June 2001. It is an endorsement of Merton’s approach to meeting the hitherto largely unmet needs of a marginalised community. The Project is helping to re-define the way public libraries can work in a meaningful way, to meet the needs of their communities.”

The Project will identify different refugee and asylum seeker communities in each borough and will work with them to provide access to services such as information about health, education and employment.

Helen Carpenter, who has recently been appointed as Project-Co-ordinator is a qualified librarian, but also has over 20 years experience of developing and nurturing partnerships and networks in other settings, from visitor services in a regional park to inner city regeneration projects. She said ‘This project should enable rewarding new relationships to develop between libraries and other organisations, extend the very best of existing good practice, and above all make a real difference to people’s lives. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity.’

This is the first time such a project has been undertaken on a pan-London basis and will create some examples of good practice that can be shared across the capital.

Press Contacts – Kirstin Rowan – LB of Merton – 020 8545 3483
Fiona O’Brien – LLDA – 020 7641 5266

Notes to Editors

The Paul Hamlyn Foundation focuses its support on Arts and Education projects in the UK which aim to address inequality and disadvantage, particularly in relation to young people. The Foundation has a strong interest in improving access to books, reading and library services, for young people and others from excluded communities. This is the primary focus of The Reading and Libraries Challenge Fund, launched in 2003.