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Becoming a bookworm at Justlife Manchester

  • 2 min read |
  • Posted by Justlife
  • On 02 April 2014
screech18 months ago Justlife began to explore improving the daily drop service at our centre for vulnerable adults in Openshaw, East Manchester. Typically welcoming between 20-35 individuals with complex and critical needs a day, we were keen that the centre was clean, warm and inspirational. In order to stimulate conversations and provide new-comers with something to do while they built up confidence to engage with the group, we began to provide a range of table-top resources, including games, newspapers and art-materials.Aware that many of our service users would never consider darkening the door of a library (and in some cases, were illiterate), we decided to ask Beswick Library if we could borrow a number of books at a time that would reflect all the different interests and literacy levels of our service users. Borrowing, rather than purchasing books, would then also mean that we could keep changing the selection.Maxine Goulding, Library Manager, kindly agreed to allow Justlife to register with the library for group loans and this has been a tremendously beneficial for our service. Over the months, many of our service users have been so interested in the books they have seen at the centre that they have borrowed them, taking them away to read/ study. In most cases these books have been returned promptly.One service user, who is extremely vulnerable, with entrenched drug addiction, is a talented artist and as a result of studying some of the art books and being inspired by them, he regularly took them out on loan from Justlife in order to practice different drawing techniques. In the midst of his chaotic and dangerous life, his drawing provided a much-needed oasis. Many of his subsequent artworks hang on the walls at Justlife and were on display along with that of other Justlife service users, at Beswick Library for several months last year.Many vulnerable people we work with here at Justlife, are interested in books but don’t feel able to go to a library themselves either because they lack confidence, assume that they wouldn’t be made welcome or because of their poor literacy. What we provide here is a safe place for people to access books and to be inspired by them. We couldn’t do this without the library service making this link possible and we are extremely grateful. THANK YOU!