Posted on Monday 23rd November 2020
The council’s library service has adapted one community support offer and is launching another to help address isolation during the second national ‘lockdown’.
The Reading Friends programme, which was originally introduced by Staffordshire County Council’s Library and Arts Team earlier this year, has been adapted and will re-launch as a telephone-only service.
Reading Friends, a UK wide initiative, which aims to bring people together to read, chat and share stories is being joined by a new scheme focusing on enabling IT access.
The IT Buddies will offer digital advice and support over the telephone to residents who are struggling to get online and take advantage of library and other leisure services.
This service will allow people to talk to a friendly voice who will help them work through their IT problems and either find a resolution or direct them to somebody who can help.
The Reading Friends and IT Buddies both aim to help people feel less lonely and more connected and are made up of re-trained library staff, volunteers and IT Tutors from Staffordshire Community Learning.
Many of the people who the initiatives hope to reach live alone or are having to shield due to health issues.
Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture said:
“Public libraries are at the heart of local communities and have a proud history of keeping people connected.
“When the pandemic first appeared, we realised how easily people could become lonely and isolated and we worked quickly to develop our library offer.
“We have trained extra staff; made changes to our original model and we hope these two support services will help many vulnerable people stay connected during these challenging times.
“Developing services which help and empower people are what libraries are all about.”
If you or somebody you know would like to get in touch with Reading Friends or the IT Buddies, please email: email@example.com or submit an IT Buddy enquiry by visiting the Telephone IT Support web page.
“We can’t wait to have everyone back in our library buildings, but initiatives like this show there are lots of support we can offer the community – even during a lockdown.”