As described in Local data on cultural facilities, there are eight libraries in Hackney – Clapton Library, Dalston CLR James Library, Hackney Central Library, Homerton Library, Shoreditch Library, Stamford Hill Library, Stoke Newington Library, Woodberry Down Library.  Box 13 summarises a selection of activities related to improving the health and wellbeing of residents that are provided by or in Hackney libraries.

The Community Library Service in Hackney is a free book delivery service for Hackney residents who cannot visit a library due to health reasons or because they are a full-time carer.  There is no age limit, but the service is heavily used by people aged 60 and over.  The service is also available to people living in sheltered housing blocks and nursing homes, and also visits day centres, nurseries, homeless hostels, St Joseph’s Hospice and Homerton Hospital. The Community Library Service also supports a telephone reading group for residents who are housebound.  Books are delivered to residents in the required format and two volunteers facilitate a reading group every six weeks.

Box 13: Examples of health and wellbeing related projects delivered by the Hackney Community Library Service

  • Reading groups are available for young people and adults, including specific groups for people whose first language is not English (ESOL groups) and people who are unemployed.
  • National programmes such as Adult Learners Week and Black History Season are celebrated in all branches whilst the Summer Activity Programme and the Summer Reading Challenge are major elements of the Council’s provision to children during holiday periods.
  • Physical activity sessions are delivered in library spaces (including ‘ping-pong’, pilates, tai-chi and yoga sessions), as well as other activities such as drama, poetry, creative writing, arts and crafts.
  • Local services hold stalls offering residents support, advice and information, e.g. stop smoking advice and clinics.
  • Macmillan Cancer Support works in partnership with Hackney Libraries to provide a Community Information Service run by Macmillan volunteers. The local coordinator uses office space within the library to meet people on a one-to-one basis to give them more specialised help.
  • There are 304 study spaces, 244 bookable computers in Hackney libraries and free Wi-Fi available.
  • Hackney Central and Dalston CLR James libraries have a dedicated area within the library called the ‘Health Spot.’ – This includes a book stock related to health and wellbeing. Associated activities are delivered as part of this project, for example dementia awareness and HIV awareness and testing.

As described in Local data on cultural facilities there are five major libraries in the City – Barbican Library, Guildhall Library, Shoe Lane Library, City Business Library and Artizan Street Library and Community Centre. Some of the City of London’s libraries are designated as being of regional or national importance.  For example, City Business Library provides its users with access to a wide range of financial and business data, and runs a full programme of events to support business start-ups and sole traders.  Guildhall Library specialises in the history of London and the City, and holds significant collections, including those of many livery companies, the Stock Exchange and Lloyd’s of London.  These two libraries are reference libraries i.e. they are not membership libraries.  Barbican Library (which loans more stock than any other London library) houses a specialist music library that is a centre of regional importance and holds an international award for excellence.  Barbican Library also hosts the library of the Society of Technical Analysts.

Box 14 summarises a selection of activities related to improving the health and wellbeing of residents that are provided by or in City of London libraries.  As in Hackney, the City of London also runs a free home delivery service for residents who cannot easily leave the house due to disability or ill health

Box 14: Examples of health and wellbeing related projects delivered by the City Library Service

  • A range of social activities that allow residents to develop their skills and interests and guard against social isolation and loneliness (including, reading groups, chess club, reminiscence groups, fashion design classes, Asian women’s and girls’ groups, sewing classes, Age UK coffee mornings, ukulele classes).
  • Stay and Play, Baby Bounce, Messy Play and Rhymetime sessions to socialise young children and provide a networking opportunity for parents. Monster Club and other activities for older children.
  • Sports and fitness classes to improve health – such as yoga, dance, zumba, pilates and ju-jitsu.
  • People’s Pianos – matches students from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with local residents to provide free individual piano lessons on the Library’s electronic keyboards.
  • Read to Succeed matches local volunteers with a City child to provide one to one reading mentoring and support.
  • The City Business Library delivers subsidised talks and workshops to help people build skills and confidence – for example, in entrepreneurship and money management.
  • Knit and Natter Craft is a weekly knitting club for City residents and others, held at the Barbican. Its purpose is to provide for others by creating knitted garments for people in need, and to provide a social support network for Barbican residents who participate in the club.
  • Read and Relax is a therapeutic reading a group run by the Friends of Barbican Library for elderly residents, where they can share stories, poems, insights and memories. These regular sessions help reduce social isolation.
  • The London Metropolitan Archives works with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people on community history projects, monthly history clubs and special exhibitions. This work promotes a greater sense of identity and community, benefitting participants’ wellbeing.

Hackney Empire, Arcola Theatre and Immediate Theatre also run programmes which contribute to residents’ wellbeing.  These include the Empire’s Community Choir (with members aged from nine to 90 years old), Arcola’s 50+ theatre group and Immediate Theatre’s intergenerational work with harder to reach groups on the borough’s housing estates. Graeae, the leading national theatre company for Deaf and disabled artists, is also based in Hackney.

The Hackney Picturehouse runs a range of community tailored events including autism friendly and mother and baby screenings.  The Rio Cinema in the borough also undertakes programmes with older people.

Examples of other relevant projects and programmes related to improving the health and wellbeing of residents that are run or facilitated by Hackney Archives (Box 15) and Hackney Museum (Box 16) are described below.

Box 15: Examples of health and wellbeing projects delivered by Hackney Archives

  • Provision of shared social space and community hub for groups, including Friends of Hackney Archives, Abney Park Trust and Hackney Museum which put on community talks.
  • Education and literacy programmes (such as creative writing workshops for 8-11year olds), as well as several ESOL classes.
  • Re-present programme – a group of attendees from Hackney day centres who self-identify as having disabilities or special educational needs, visit the archives and reminisce with historical material of images of Hackney past and present.
  • Used as a versatile space for travelling exhibitions, local community talks, teaching and learning sessions, study users, and other outreach events.
  • Local History for ESOL Learners – a partnership between Adult Learning Services and Hackney Museum provides residents with the opportunity to explore the history of the borough while also improving their English language skills.

Box 16: Examples of health and wellbeing projects delivered by Hackney Museum

  • Supports the co-creation of exhibitions in partnership with communities, including opportunities for public participation in the exhibitions – approximately 4-8 temporary exhibitions a year are displayed, with previous exhibitions including the history of mental health care and the journeys taken by residents who have suffered severe and enduring mental health issues.
  • Schools programme that has three main strands – the core programme (supports the national curriculum to teach local history, identity and belonging), Black History Season programme (see below) and the Junior Citizenship Scheme (in partnership with the Safety & Citizenship team at the London Transport Museum).
  • Hackney Museum leads on the borough’s annual Black History Seasons activities, usually including a temporary exhibition and a related public programme of events and education workshops.
  • Enabling greater digital access through online platforms.
  • Creating a volunteer programme to support local needs, skills, development and employment opportunities.
  • Extensive learning programme of taught sessions for Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2 and Special Educational Needs (SEN) groups, ESOL leaners and provision of online resources.