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Kirklees librarians win award for English Talk

Libraries Connected award for team behind life-changing English-language sessions for the region’s most isolated residents.

This year’s Libraries Connected awards celebrate the achievements of library staff across the country and the enormous positive impact they can make to their communities. The six categories of award are based on the core services and programmes that today’s libraries provide.

Mazhar Iqbal from Kirklees Libraries with his Libraries Connected Award

Mazhar Iqbal from Kirklees Libraries with his Libraries Connected award, photo courtesy of Kirklees Council

The expert panel judging the shortlisted nominations included Lesley Parr, award-winning author of children’s historical fiction, and representatives from bodies including Arts Council England, The Reading Agency, the Queen’s Reading Room, the Guardian Foundation and digital book platform OverDrive, creator of the Libby reading app for libraries and Sora reading app for schools.

Librarians Ambreen Aziz, Becky Longwood and Mazhar Iqbal from Kirklees Libraries won the Reading Award for running weekly ‘English Talk’ sessions, where local residents can practice speaking, listening to, reading and writing English in a series of informal activities tailored to their needs. More than 300 residents have taken part since the initiative began in 2018. The award acknowledges the huge benefits of the scheme in helping the region’s most isolated residents to feel more connected.

Richard Parry, Strategic Director for Adults and Health at Kirklees Council, says: ‘Our amazing library service is a dab hand at winning awards.  From health and well-being to multiple New Year’s Honours, Kirklees Libraries have shown time and again the impact they have in local communities in the borough.

‘The English Talk time sessions are a lifeline for those in the community who do not know English as a first language, helping them to better integrate and be more connected in their communities.  This in turn will help them to achieve better outcomes in health, education and general wellbeing.  Congratulations to everyone involved.’

Other winners included Gemma Mccaffery and Franka Aichour from Hillingdon Library Service, who won the Children’s Promise award for their work in improving services for young people which has helped to reduce anti-social behaviour. This included engaging with focus groups to plan and facilitate a World Café, setting up a safe space for teens and running a participatory budgeting event.

Alison Cassidy from Liverpool won the Health and Wellbeing award for her work leading on programmes including weekly health information, social prescribing, digital inclusion drop-in sessions and marketplace events. A team from Cambridgeshire won the Information and Digital Award for their work in responding to the digital inclusion needs of asylum seekers. Mark Eldridge from Derby City Library Service won the Vision and Print Impaired People’s Promise (VPIPP) award for is work to improve the region’s offer for blind and partially sighted people, including a partnership with RNIB to establish new tech hubs.

For full details of all winners, see the Libraries Connected website.

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Simon Guerrier
Writer and journalist for Social Care Today, Infotec and Air Quality News

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