LIBRARIES LIFELINE AS COST OF LIVING CRISIS DEEPENS

LIBRARIES LIFELINE AS COST OF LIVING CRISIS DEEPENS

ibraries around Devon and Torbay will be offering warm welcoming spaces along with groups, resources and facilities to help people all over Devon and Torbay struggling in the cost of living crisis this winter. 

The new ‘Libraries for Life’ campaign will launch in October and run until March 2023. It will highlight the numerous ways libraries offer help, mostly for free.

The campaign will cover six themes: the cost of living, loneliness and community connections, food, health and wellbeing, digital access and support, and employment, skills, and businesses. 

These will be modelled under the following headings:

  • “Cutting the Costs” 
  • “Feeling Connected” 
  • “Food and Communities” 
  • “Health and Happiness” 
  • “Opening the Digital Door” 
  • “Our Work Lives”

Events and facilities on offer include:

Warm welcoming spaces throughout all libraries in Devon and Torbay. Everyone is welcome to join and spend time in the library, including use of the free WiFi and computers. There are numerous free events and groups including Bounce & Rhyme for babies and toddlers, book clubs, scrabble, Lego clubs, craft sessions and many more. During the winter months libraries will also working with partners to host sessions supporting energy efficiency, debt advice and other important topics.

Community fridge projects in Tavistock, Tiverton and Exeter (with more to come), which make surplus food available to all for free so that good food gets eaten and doesn’t go to waste. The Tiverton fridge runs in partnership with Sustainable Tiverton. The Tavi fridge, which opened in March 2021 runs in partnership with LiveWest and helps an estimated 45 people a day. The new Exeter fridge stocks food donated by local businesses and supermarkets and is partly funded by the Community Fund. The food is predominantly from local supermarkets and is after its ‘Best Before’ date which is an indication of quality – as opposed to a ‘Use By’ date which relates to food safety. These projects are volunteer run, and the availability of surplus food is unpredictable so can’t be guaranteed.

Coat rails in Paignton, Barnstaple, Ilfracombe, Exmouth, Totnes, Torquay, Bideford, Ivybridge, Sidmouth, Seaton, Exeter and Tiverton. The rails were implemented in partnership with Ikea, Willmott Dixon and Julian House. Warm winter coats are donated by library users and others from the local community and can be taken by vulnerable people. Other libraries act as clothing collecting points. 

Home library service in Devon and Books on Wheels Service in Torbay for those who are housebound or struggle to get to the library.  Many libraries have volunteers and the ability to deliver books to those at home who need them. Contact your local library or email[email protected] for more information.

Free baby weighing facilities at many libraries in Devon including – Ottery St Mary, Totnes, Ivybridge, Tavistock, Teignmouth, Ilfracombe, Barnstaple, St Thomas, Exeter, Dawlish, Okehampton, Newton Abbot, Cullompton, Tiverton and Exmouth. This scheme is in partnership with Devon County Council and is designed for families or parents to use during popular Bounce & Rhyme sessions.

A selection of Reading Well books available in all libraries. These cover various aspects of mental and physical health, and include titles aimed at children, teens, and young adults. Digital copies of Reading Well materials are also available through Libby as well as Devon and Torbay catalogues.

Free drop-in IT sessions throughout most libraries. Newton Abbot Library also hosts Barclays once a week offering a Digital Wings Programme to boost digital skills and confidence, for free. Info on this program can be found here.  Paignton Library and other libraries also have volunteers to help customers with any IT or digital problems.

Work Clubs in Bideford, Barnstaple, Exeter, Newton Abbot, Crediton, Cullompton, Tiverton, and Tavistock libraries. These clubs offer one-to-one support in CV writing, developing skills and applying for jobs.

Business & IP Centres in Barnstaple, Exeter, and Paignton. These provide courses, webinars, one-to-one coaching and advice for budding entrepreneurs and local startup businesses.

Volunteering at your local library is a great way to meet new people and support your local community this winter. We have lots of volunteering roles and opportunities – contact your local library for details.

As part of this campaign in September, there will also be an artist in residency in the former GAP store in Exeter. They will be making an installation in the shape of a tree for Barnstaple library. 

The space will host workshops, library events, BIPC Devon pop-up sessions and also act as a pop-up library where people can sign up to get a free library card and borrow books. 

Colin Bray, Service Development Manager, who’s organised the campaign, said: “Across all our libraries there are friendly staff on hand to assist and chat to customers and new visitors. We pride ourselves on the fact our libraries are safe, accessible, and welcoming spaces for people of all ages to enjoy. 

“All signs point to this being a difficult winter for many people. There is economic hardship ahead, coming off the back of the recovery from the challenges wrought by Covid. Our customers will be dealing with an increased cost of living including heating bills, transport, and food this winter. 

“We want them to know libraries can help. We can keep them warm, give them food, help them find a job, boost their business, offer companionship and a place to explore interests, and help them get online. And all of that is before they even borrow a book!

“We regularly hear people say, ‘I didn’t know you did so much’! This winter we want to showcase all that we do to enrich lives and build communities around Devon and Torbay.”

Full details of events and initiatives at individual libraries are available online at

librariesunlimited.org.uk or by visiting your local library.

A network of 54 libraries in Devon and Torbay, and four Devon mobile libraries, are run by Libraries Unlimited, an independent staff and community owned charity. Join up for free by filling in the online form. Join the Library – Devon (devonlibraries.org.uk) or Torbay (torbaylibraries.org.uk). Follow Libraries Unlimited on Facebook.

About The Author

Boost News Desk

Robert Haylor has 14 years of web development experience, starting out as a web developer whilst still in his university dorm room at Birmingham City University. With a background and a strong interest in website design & development he is skilled in a variety of programming languages including PHP, MySQL, CSS3 and HTML5. As Managing Director of Boost Digital Media, he regularly jumps on to client projects on a daily basis as well as ensuring the company strategy is being implemented and is delivering results.

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