November 15
Libraries NI shortlisted in prestigious Dementia Awards - November 2016

Dementia Awards at The Europa Hotel
Photographed at the Northern Ireland Dementia Friendly Awards ceremony, which was held in The Europa Hotel on 12 October 2016 are (from left to right): Fionnuala Breslin and Fionnuala McClelland from Ballyowen House; Fiona McGettigan, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust; and Karen Woods, Nikki Terlik & Sheena Gamble from Libraries NI. 

Dementia Awards at the Europa Hotel
Photographed at the Northern Ireland Dementia Friendly Awards ceremony, which was held in The Europa Hotel on 12 October 2016 are (from left to right): Karen Woods, Nikki Terlik & Sheena Gamble from Libraries NI. 

Libraries NI’s Targeting Social Exclusion (TSE) team attended the Northern Ireland Dementia Friendly Awards ceremony which was held in The Europa Hotel on 12 October 2016.

Libraries NI had been shortlisted in three categories, for Large Organisation, Small Organisation and Partnership awards. The awards are held annually to recognise work in creating supportive and safe communities for people with dementia and their loved ones and they represent the very best practice in Northern Ireland today.

For the ‘Partnership Award’ and ‘Small Organisation’ categories, Libraries NI was shortlisted for the work carried out in Shankill Road Library with Hemsworth Court.

In April 2015 Shankill Road Library became part of a Dementia Friendly Community making the commitment to work towards improving the lives of people with dementia. One of the most vital aspects of this was to build and develop the partnership with Hemsworth Court, a housing scheme for people living with dementia and their families. Every week, the library hosts visits for the Hemsworth Court residents and since October 2015, they have been able to enjoy a range of activities including Knit and Natter, Mindful Colouring, iPad workshop, filming session, a World Book Day event and much more.

In terms of the Large Organisation Award, Libraries NI / Suffolk Library was shortlisted for its work with Ballyowen House. In 2015 Libraries NI met with the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust to establish a four-week programme in Suffolk Library that would suit dementia patients, focusing on reading and reminiscence activities to be implemented with the residents of Ballyowen House, including a visit to Suffolk Library for a reminiscence session using the Northern Ireland Screen Digital Film Archive (DFA). This programme was deemed a success and on completion of the initial four visits the service continued on a fortnightly basis providing reading material which included poems, songs and stories with each session having a theme such as work, seasons, entertainment or childhood. This arrangement continued until February 2016 when the centre closed. However the relationship with the activities co-ordinator continues and she can access library stock to use in other centres and there have been library visits to another centre in North Belfast to repeat a similar programme.

While Libraries NI didn’t collect one of the winners’ awards on the day, to have been honoured by being shortlisted for their work in helping dementia patients, is the start of a new area of work in which we hope to continue to develop and grow.​

September 27
Libraries NI recognises success of first Reading Ahead participants

Irene Knox, Libraries NI Chief Executive and Nikki Terlik, TSE Community Project Officer with Libraries NI
Irene Knox (right), Libraries NI Chief Executive and Nikki Terlik, TSE Community Project Officer with Libraries NI, speak at the certificate presentation to those participants who completed the Reading Ahead programme in Holywood Arches Library. 

Tuesday 13 September 2016 marked a certificate presentation in Holywood Arches Library to a group of young adults who completed Reading Ahead programme.

Libraries NI worked with PeoplePlus NI to identify suitable people who would benefit from participating in the Reading Ahead programme, which has been designed for reluctant adult readers and Holywood Arches Library was the venue for the first pilot of this programme.

Libraries NI Chief Executive, Irene Knox came along to the certificate presentation and commended the participants on their achievements.

One in six people struggles to read, however, research shows that when we inspire people to read for pleasure they benefit from far greater opportunities in everyday life, education and employment. Reading Ahead (formerly called the Six Book Challenge) is the gateway to these opportunities because everything changes when we read. 

Reading Ahead invites participants to pick six reads and record, rate and review them in a diary in order to get a certificate.  The programme isn't just about books; newspapers, magazines and websites can be read too. It is implemented not only through libraries but also adult learning organisations, colleges, prisons and workplaces.

PeoplePlus NI provides employment and training services to help the long-term unemployed into work and the Reading Ahead programme is the perfect platform to support adults by changing their perception of reading, opening up opportunities and building their confidence. 

The new name ‘Reading Ahead’ has been chosen to encourage more people to take part as the words ‘books’ and ‘challenge’ may have been considered a barrier to joining in. 

Participants can also use the Reading Ahead website http://readingahead.org.uk to share their thoughts about what they read, enter competitions and find out more about the programme.

Libraries NI is working with PeoplePlus NI to devise a programme for future groups to get involved in the Reading Ahead programme in other areas across Belfast, particularly in Targeting Social Exclusion communities.

The successful participants of the Reading Ahead programme enjoyed a certificate presentation  in Holywood Arches Library.
The successful participants of the Reading Ahead programme enjoyed a certificate presentation
in Holywood Arches Library.
Also included in the photo is Joanne Bunting MLA, Irene Knox Chief Executive of Libraries NI, Tracey Murphy from People Plus NI, Nikki Terlik, TSE Community Project Officer with Libraries NI and
Janet Watt, Branch Library Manager of Holywood Arches Library.

Successful participants of the Reading Ahead programme show off their certificates
Successful participants of the Reading Ahead programme show off their certificates.
August 25
Tony Macaulay’s books produced in braille by Maghaberry prisoners – now available in Lisburn City Library

Tony Macaulay Braille Releases
 Author Tony Macaulay’s books produced in braille by Maghaberry prisoners – now available in Lisburn City Library​

Prisoners at Maghaberry have reproduced in braille a trilogy of books by local author Tony Macaulay for Lisburn City Library.

Copies of ‘Paperboy’, ‘Breadboy’ and ‘All growed up’, which draw on the Shankill Road author’s experiences growing up in Northern Ireland, were each painstakingly translated into braille by a group of ten prisoners.

15 volumes of the specially compiled books were presented to Tony and Lisburn City Library to make available to partially sighted and blind people across Northern Ireland.

Mark Mooney, Instructor in the Braille unit at Maghaberry, revealed:

“This is the first time we have reproduced anything by a Northern Ireland author. We’ve done Bibles in braille, children’s books, which we sent to Malawi, and even an Irish language text book, but this is quite a new venture.

“It took about four months to complete all three of the books. It was a real team effort, but I know, individually, each of the guys involved got a lot out of it - an innovative rehabilitation project which allowed them all to give something back to the community.”

In his books, Author Tony Macaulay, who was raised at the top of the Shankill Road in West Belfast at the start of The Troubles, draws on his experiences growing up with stories which reflect a turbulent social history, with entertaining insights, wit and humour.

Speaking at the presentation of the braille books in Maghaberry, Tony said:

“I am delighted to have my books translated into braille for two main reasons. Firstly, it means that blind and visually impaired readers can enjoy the books. Secondly, I believe the Braille Unit at Maghaberry is a brilliant example of prisoners contributing positively to our community.”

Diane McCready, Lisburn City Branch Library Manager added:

“Libraries NI is delighted to offer partially sighted and blind people in Lisburn and beyond the opportunity to enjoy this trilogy of books by renowned Belfast author Tony Macauley.

“Tony’s books have proved very popular in our libraries and by offering this range of his books in braille, we are fulfilling our commitment to make our services accessible to customers, including those who are blind or partially sighted.”

The books can be borrowed from Lisburn City Library for free and can be requested through any public library in Northern Ireland.

February 26
Celebrating Six Years of Health in Mind success

Nearly 200,000 people across Northern Ireland have been reached with positive mental health and wellbeing information through the Health in Mind project.

This statistic was one of the positive messages arising from the Celebration of Health in Mind event, held recently at Ormeau Road Library.

Libraries NI, working along with Action Mental Health, Aware, CAUSE and MindWise, was able to deliver a wide range of events and workshops in public libraries over a six year period. The celebration event marked the end of the project, with partners, key stakeholders and participants coming together to reflect on the achievements.

During the project, many people received valuable knowledge, advice and information, by accessing information and attending events in libraries and in other community venues.

The Health in Mind Partnership was funded under the Big Lottery Fund’s Live and Learn programme, working together to improve the understanding of mental health in the wider community and to provide opportunities to join in wellbeing activities and events.

Commenting on Health in Mind, Libraries NI Chief Executive Irene Knox said:

“The Health in Mind project has positively impacted and changed the lives of almost 200,000 people across Northern Ireland and was a leading example of effective, collaborative working with the four partner organisations involved.

“Evidence from those who took part showed clearly that people valued the opportunity to avail of Health in Mind services and resources in their own local community, with like-minded people and in the safe and neutral environment of a library. The partner organisations’ expertise and knowledge was supported by Libraries NI’s increased investment in resources, including books, and information relevant to subject matters such as anxiety, wellbeing and depression.”  

Siobhan Doherty, Chief Executive of Aware said:

“Aware have been really overwhelmed by the success of this project.  Working in partnership with Libraries NI and the other mental health charities has been such a positive experience for us in delivering services in a non-stigmatised way to people in their own communities.  People felt empowered to access support through this project and it opened up a whole new way of working for us.  Those we supported through this project have been delighted to have programmes delivered to them this way and it has been of such huge benefit to their mental wellbeing.”

Commenting on Health in Mind, Marie Grattan, Chief Executive of CAUSE added:

“Health in Mind has succeeded in raising awareness of mental health, caring for mental health and reducing stigma by offering a vibrant programme through local libraries at the heart of communities.  From accessing information on mental wellbeing in dedicated reading collections through to fun social activities, Libraries NI and the partnership of mental health charities has brought a real focus on mental health to a wider audience across all parts of Northern Ireland.”

Gavin McConvey from Action Mental Health said:

 “Health in Mind unlocked the potential for libraries in Northern Ireland to be central to local communities not only for learning but for life. Health in Mind paved the way and demonstrated that healthy resilient communities are a result of challenging the barriers to participation and reducing the stigma of mental ill health. 

Edward Gorringe, Chief Executive of MindWise added:

“The Health in Mind project was a great opportunity to put mental health right in the centre of local communities across Northern Ireland via local libraries. Working in partnership we have raised awareness and promoted our message of mental health recovery. The project has encouraged people to take care of their mental health and wellbeing and build resilience. The benefits of the Health in Mind project will continue to be felt through the ongoing community involvement of participants.”

As well as helping almost 200,000 people, strong working relationships have developed between the partners over the six years of the Health in Mind project and many other more local partnerships have also been developed resulting in improvement in people’s lives. This provides a sound foundation for any future initiatives in the area of health and wellbeing.

The appealing and user-friendly Health in Mind website www.yourhealthinmind.org will continue to provide an invaluable, freely available resource for members of the public and anyone interested in positive mental health and wellbeing information.​​

Health in Mind final.jpg 

The main partners of Health in Mind come together for the Celebration event (from Left to right Irene Knox , Chief Executive Libraries NI, Gavin McConvey Fundraising Manager Action Mental Health, Edward Gorringe Chief Executive Mindwise, Maire Grattan Chief Executive Cause, Siobhan Doherty Chief Executive Aware and Deborah Alma the Emergency Poet)

January 26
Connecting with People #makingadifference

​Over the past six months, Libraries NI’s dedicated Targeting Social Exclusion team has delivered nearly 1,000 life changing activities for people living in some of the most deprived areas in Northern Ireland. Many of these activities were designed to help people make small steps to improve their own lives and those of their families.

One example of this work is with Bracken (Beacon Wellbeing), a community wellbeing resource based at the Skainos Centre in East Belfast. A primary goal, after meeting with staff from Bracken, was to develop local partnerships with organisations such as Hosford House Hostel. The aim of this partnership was to create a programme to suit a group of individuals experiencing mental illness or poor mental health and anxiety, tailored specifically to support engagement in their local community. They were invited to come into Holywood Arches Library to enjoy a range of library activities, such as reminiscence sessions with digital film archives and relevant health information programmes.

Members of the group spent a full day at Holywood Arches Library. They attended a reminiscence session in the morning and a Health in Mind session in the afternoon. Central to this programme was the Wellbeing and Recovery Plan (WRAP) delivered by Libraries NI’s Health in Mind team. Health in Mind is a partnership project which is funded under the Big Lottery Fund’s Live and Learn programme and offers a wide range of positive mental health and wellbeing resources and services in libraries and other community venues. Libraries NI is the lead partner, working along with Action Mental Health, AWARE, CAUSE and MindWise.

To continue supporting the adult group, Libraries NI staff delivered a series of six Got IT (basic computer skills courses) sessions focusing on an introduction to IT, email and the internet in Holywood Arches Library. Many members of the support group now attend the library individually and incorporate visits into their regular routines, enjoying activities such as Knit and Natter and creative writing. These activities help them to improve their engagement with the community in which they live.

Positive feedback from one of the participants of the outreach programme, simply stated:

"It has helped me contact friends and relatives."

For someone recovering from a mental illness this is a very positive learning outcome which will contribute to improving their quality of life.

Commenting on the overall project Dee Brannigan, Manager at Bracken Beacon said:

"Thanks to Libraries NI for the support and the excellent service you and your staff provide to our members. They have commented that they feel valued and treated with respect at all times, and that they love the fact that it’s "not like school" ... i.e. you are replacing their past negative learning experiences with positive ones. This is invaluable and really supports them in their recovery." 

 Reminiscence session with digital film archives
November 18
Libraries NI recognised for its pioneering work with Dementia
Derry Engaging and Empowering Dimentia Award

At the annual Derry Engaging and Empowering Dementia (DEED) celebration, Derry Central Library was delighted to receive an award recognising its work towards making a dementia friendly city.

DEED is a project that raises the understanding about how to recognise, help and support people with dementia and the awards highlight the great work people and organisations do to make the city dementia friendly. The award was given to the library in recognition of its participation in the project and also its willingness, as one of the first statutory organisations within the city, to work towards a dementia friendly environment.

Since January 2015, 20 library staff have been trained by DEED to recognise, help and support people with dementia. As well as actively encouraging people with early onset dementia to attend story sessions, staff have also made small changes to the layout of the premises. These changes have included the opening up of floor space, improvements in shelving and enhanced signage. Users with dementia can easily get confused and these slight changes can make a real difference. As a result of the training, staff are more confident in dealing with and organising events for users with the early onset of dementia to attend library events.

For example, Patricia McAdams, Branch Library Manager, works with a local carer Emmett, who regularly brings a group of eight people to the library once a week and she reads aloud a short story and a related poem which they then discuss.

Commenting on the work, Emmett said:

“The group love the sessions in the library and look forward to going every week. Even on the days when you think they are not engaging with the story, once they go back to their centre, they start talking about the story and particularly the poem, which they all take turns to read aloud. We find these sessions stimulate even the quietest person in the group. Their value cannot be under estimated.”

Libraries NI has an extensive range of free resources that are of great benefit to historians, researchers, genealogists, students and to anyone who may have an interest in local community life and area history. A member of staff from Derry Central Library has used these resources by holding a reminiscence session for a group with dementia in a local residential care home during which they were able to help unlock their memories by using photographs and artefacts taken from the library’s Heritage collection.

Commenting on this session their carer said:

“The level of engagement during this reminiscence session was really good and the memories generated were rich and the stories were told spontaneously.

Most of the group recalled a variety of memories from holidays, schooldays, life in the city as teenagers and events such as the circus coming to town. It was a really productive session.” 

Member of staff with award
DEED Award
October 30
Connecting People with Information  #makingadifference

Macmillan Cancer Support and Libraries NI – a Partnership Focused on People’s Needs

30 people are diagnosed with cancer every day in Northern Ireland according to  Macmillan Cancer Support statistics. It is really important that these people receive and understand the right information as this will influence directly both their long-term health and the corresponding costs for the NHS.

To help address this issue, Libraries NI and Macmillan Cancer Support have formed a partnership to provide information and advice about cancer in each of Northern Ireland’s 96 public libraries. This pioneering partnership ensures that cancer patients will be able to visit any library and find essential information with library staff on hand to provide support.

A library is a trusted community resource which people often visit when looking for reliable health information. By working in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support, Libraries NI is raising awareness of the services offered for cancer sufferers and ensuring that tried-and-trusted information booklets are freely available in communities across Northern Ireland. The booklets are now displayed in branded information points in each library and the range of issues covered includes keeping active, talking to children about cancer, travel insurance and working with cancer.

At a recent event launching the partnership of Macmillan Cancer Support and Libraries NI, Madeleine Coyle, a retired librarian and recent cancer sufferer explained the benefits of libraries providing cancer information. At the event Madeleine explained:

“This partnership brings together two things that I am passionate about supporting - people with cancer and libraries. Libraries are welcoming community hubs that give people access to information of many kinds. For cancer sufferers it is so important to find the right information and that is how this partnership really comes into its own.

It gives members of the public the opportunity to avail of excellent Macmillan Cancer Support information with caring, professional library staff members on hand to point people in the right direction. Libraries are the perfect, welcoming environment in which to make this happen. I know that this will be successful and I hope that many others will benefit from this service into the future.”

Madeleine was diagnosed with lung cancer

Madeleine Coyle

Paula Kealey (Macmillan Cancer Support), Irene Knox (CEO of Libraries NI) and retired librarian and cancer survivor, Madeleine

Paula Kealey (Macmillan Cancer Support), Irene Knox (CEO of Libraries NI) and retired librarian and cancer survivor, Madeleine Coyle