Sefton Council’s libraries have joined a handful of library services in the UK to be awarded ‘Library of Sanctuary’ status.
Libraries of Sanctuary
Presented by the City of Sanctuary UK, the award recognises and celebrates libraries across the country that go above and beyond in welcoming refugees, people seeking asylum, or anyone in need of a safe place.
City of Sanctuary UK is a nationally co-ordinated network of organisations and services, including councils, universities, theatres and libraries, which welcomes and supports refugees and asylum seekers. They aim to raise awareness of the issues facing people within the asylum system and create a culture of welcome in the community.
Sefton’s libraries have been recognised by the network for their work in supporting those seeking sanctuary and for their Human Libraries programme.
The programme, at Bootle and Crosby libraries, hosts regular, free workshops, events and community meets. Since its creation, it has led a number of collaborative projects with the community to establish a welcoming space.
In March, Human Libraries won a 2021 Impact Award from Liverpool City Region Culture and Creativity Awards for their work during the Covid restrictions.
During lockdown, the programme still continued with online and blended activities, providing residents with social events that they could attend safely.
The announcement has been made in line with Refugee Week, which runs from Monday 20th to Sunday 26th June and celebrates the contributions and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary.
Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing said: “We are committed to supporting the entire community so I’m extremely pleased that we have achieved Library of Sanctuary status. The award highlights the vital work that our libraries have put in to ensure that refugees and people seeking asylum feel welcome in Sefton.
“Our Human Libraries project in particular showcases the diverse range of skills and inclusivity the members of the Borough have to offer.”
Siân Summer Rees, the Chief Officer of the City of Sanctuary Network said: “We are delighted that Sefton libraries are now a Library of Sanctuary. This team has gone above and beyond to welcome people seeking sanctuary and platform their voices, bring the community together and raise awareness of the reasons people are forced to move.
“This award formally recognises this phenomenal work – work which has never before been so important.”
People can find out more about Sefton Council’s Library Service and the Human Libraries initiative at www.sefton.gov.uk/libraries.