City of Sanctuary UK invites organisations across the voluntary, public and private sectors to contribute to a culture of welcome by following three straightforward processes: Learn about what it means to be seeking sanctuary, take positive action to embed the concepts of welcome, safety and inclusion within the context of the organisation and the wider community and share their vision and achievements. Public libraries are a key part of this and we want all Kirklees Libraries to be safe, neutral, welcoming spaces that are accessible to all.
Welcoming people seeking sanctuary from conflict, persecution, environmental issues and other new arrivals, our Libraries of Sanctuary work provides us with a focus to improve and develop our service provision and foster a culture of inclusion and support integration in our communities. We already provide free access to books, e-books and e-audio, including community and dual language titles, along with free access to I.T and various online resources such as Press Reader which hosts a number of international publications.
We offer ESOL provision in our libraries through the delivery of informal library run conversation groups and enable other groups such as ‘Meet, Try and Learn’ to convene and This Way for English (#TW4E) in our space. The Kirklees Welcomes initiatives have already had a positive impact by decreasing loneliness and enabling people to meet and make new friends and learn new skills. We have also worked closely with other partner organisations such as DASH in Huddersfield to provide a dual language storytime including the opportunity to join the library service for the attending families. An important part of this work involved the fact that ID is no longer required to join Kirklees Libraries, therefore removing a very difficult barrier to service access for many people.
We support Refugee Week every year through the delivery of awareness raising events and activities and do this in partnership with others wherever possible. This year we are, of course, somewhat restricted in our participation but are still able to promote our extensive collection of e-books and e-audio on the theme of exile. One of our library members of staff has also recorded a lovely Kurdish poetry reading which we are sharing widely online. As part of our ongoing Libraries of Sanctuary work we also aim to train all our staff and volunteers to understand issues faced by sanctuary seekers and be able provide them with signposting and support.
Our e-book collection can be found at https://kirklees.overdrive.com/ The Kurdish Poetry Reading can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQY_GdnKyiY&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR1nGqL0GmCqBE24HbH6vJCxkZE9JKAbHWsXGB1m2qkiXqpDQiDuXdXCWf0
Watch the video to learn more about Libraries of Sanctuary