BEFRIENDING calls and Warwickshire County Council’s home library service have been a lifeline to vulnerable residents says the authority.
In April last year, the council’s ‘home library service’ began making doorstep deliveries, enabling isolating residents to keep reading.
Around 360 home library service customers across Warwickshire now benefit from receiving a doorstep book delivery every four weeks – meaning a total delivery of around 3,500 books since spring.
A ‘befriending calls’ service was also set up in March last year.
The service involves a library staff member phoning residents for a regular chat about the books they are reading, to check how they are getting on and to direct them to other services that may be able to help them.
One resident told libraries staff that she was ‘going down the pan’ until a befriending call ‘brought her back up’, while another described his caller ‘like a bright star in his very dark sky’.
Another resident told her doctor the library service was there for her in ‘the dark times’ and ‘they don’t judge you and let you ramble on!’.
A team of three make around 200 befriending calls every month. Over 1,900 weekly or two weekly calls have been made to around 150 residents since the start of the pandemic.
In September, Warwickshire Libraries’ Mobile Library Service, which had been suspended at the start of the pandemic, also got up and running again with a contactless service, providing a valuable lifeline for residents who could not travel to a library building, due circumstances or restrictions.
Around 9,600 books have been selected by staff since September and customers have made over 2,400 individual collections of books from the mobile library service’s urban and rural stop off points across the county since then.
Coun Kam Kaur said: “Our befriending calls and home library service are a welcome achievement for our residents, providing individuals who would otherwise struggle to use libraries with a vital service.
“It would not be possible to run these without our team of devoted staff, who deliver so much more than just a library service. The present pandemic has revealed how imperative it is that we work together to help individuals in our communities that would be severely impacted without our assistance.”