Pollards Hill Library hailed as ‘outstanding’

The Pollards Hill Library project, which included a full refurbishment and increase in size by 30%, has been graded as ‘outstanding’. This classification was awarded as part of a review of the project by the Big Lottery Fund.

Since its £1million refurbishment in 2009, Merton Council’s library team set a number of targets to encourage more residents to get involved with the library to increase literacy and numeracy skills, health and employment opportunities as part of a three year Community Engagement Plan. Some of the key achievements include:

– Over 600 local residents have voted on various aspects of how services should be delivered and have helped to inform decisions and shape services. The community voting system will remain in place to ensure that locals continue to participate in decision-making.

– As a result of the project the programme of activities offered has been dramatically expanded. To ensure the sustainability of this beyond the life of the project the Champion programme was established. This trains and develops volunteers to become champions in the areas of health, family learning and basic skills. Ten champions currently lead on the delivery of a wide range of courses and activities at the library. This programme has been hugely successful and is being rolled out in all libraries across Merton.

– A youth panel has been established to inform the development and delivery of services for young people at the library.

Cabinet Member for Community and Culture, Councillor Nick Draper said: “The transformation of Pollards Hill library has been outstanding, and the whole place is buzzing with activity. If you live nearby, and you’re not a regular visitor, you’re losing out. Go see what’s happening there this summer!”

ENDS

Notes to editors

Outcomes achieved as part of the project include the following:

– Over 1100 local residents have reported an improvement in their health or knowledge of health as a result of accessing the health offer in libraries.

– Use of library services by young families has increased as a result of the family learning provision and baby facilities at the library.

– Over 600 BME residents have registered for classes at the library. Over 84% of 314 BME residents that participated in a recent survey agreed with the statement “The library helps bring people of different ages and backgrounds together.”

– Over 60 BMEs, 15 young people and 13 older people have volunteered their time to directly support the delivery of activities in the library.

– Over 200 adult residents with basic skills needs have reported an increase in ICT, literacy and numeracy skills as a result of guidance from the library

– Over 30% of BME residents feel less isolated in the community as a result of community events and learning in the library

– Almost 300 parents have reported increased usage of the library as a result of the new facilities

– Almost 1,000 residents have reported improvements in the knowledge of their health from attending health related sessions in libraries run by partners.