£40k cash boost will help launch Renfrewshire libraries project to tackle social isolation

By Stephanie Brawn

Leisure bosses are set to splash £40,000 on a new libraries project to tackle loneliness and improve mental health after receiving a Scottish Government funding boost.

Ministers have handed Renfrewshire Leisure the grant from the £1.25milliion Public Library Covid Relief Fund which is designed to support innovative projects in deprived communities.

The cash will be used to fund an initiative that will encourage people out of their homes and into libraries where they can socialise and enjoy the company of others.

Renfrewshire Leisure has said it will work with other agencies to identify people most at risk of social isolation in different communities and create opportunities for them in libraries.

A chunk of the money will fund the appointment of a part-time coordinator, who will help deliver a new programme of arts-based activities, and a new library-based artist in residence.

More specific details of the project are expected to be revealed once the appointments are made but it is hoped the scheme will be up and running in the new year.

Don't miss the latest headlines from around Renfrewshire. Sign up to our newsletters here.

Joyce Higgins, digital and library development manager at Renfrewshire Leisure, said: “We are incredibly proud of the wide and impactful work done by our libraries team, never more so than during the coronavirus pandemic, during which they have not only delivered terrific online programmes but have ensured all 12 of our libraries have been open when restrictions have allowed.

“Much of that has helped tackle loneliness at a time when restrictions placed increased numbers at greater risk of this.

"But we know this is an ongoing issue in our communities and are keen to do more. Given the way in which Covid-19 has affected all of our lives, everyone can appreciate the positive difference that being able to meet people can make.

“This much-welcome support from the Scottish Government will allow us to reach those in danger and take action to improve their mental health and well-being through what will be enjoyable and engaging activities.”

The government cash will fund 23 projects across the country to reconnect people with libraries.

Many have struggled to get back on their feet following the worst of the pandemic restrictions at the same time as people have begun to suffer more with isolation.

Ross Greer, who represents Renfrewshire as a West of Scotland MSP, said libraries can make a real difference to the quality of people's lives as the region recovers from the crisis.

He added: “Libraries are a lifeline for many people across Renfrewshire but most have been struggling to regain momentum and get people back through the doors after a long period of closures and restrictions.

"Loneliness has been a growing problem during this same period and local libraries have a really important role to play in tackling that, helping people to access the support and social contact they really need.

“This funding announcement is fantastic news for Renfrewshire. Local communities will now see a range of activities supporting literacy and strengthening mental health."

Download the FREE Renfrewshire Live app now for all the latest news, features and sport in your area. Available on both Android and Apple. Download here: smarturl.it/RenfrewLiveSocial


What is inkl?

Important stories

See news based on value, not advertising potential. Get the latest news from around the world.

Trusted newsrooms

We bring you reliable news from the world’s most experienced journalists in the most trusted newsrooms.

Ad-free reading

Read without interruptions, distractions or intrusions of privacy.