2023 has been busy across our programs in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. Here’s a quick update on what’s been happening across The Footpath Library Programs.
Apart from our regular service at Martin Place, The Footpath Library has commenced monthly mobile libraries at neighbourhood centres in Waterloo and Newtown, as well as trialing a new service at Marrickville. We’re finding that puzzle books and word search books are popular with our readers, as well as self-help non-fiction and crime fiction books.
The Hub at the Hannaford Community Centre in Rozelle is proving to be well-attended on a monthly basis and we continue to have great collaboration from other service providers and businesses, including volunteer hairdressers Kristen from Ziggetty Snipits and Casey from The Doll Studio, and Free Your Feet Podiatry. Several of the attendees at The Hub are regulars each month and said they rely on The Hub for the opportunity to access good quality books and connect with others in the community.
Caleb* has previously attended The Hub on two occasions, and heard about us from a friend who is in social housing. He is an ex-serviceman and an avid reader who loves the opportunity to access new and almost-new books as he is unable to afford them himself. Caleb is especially keen on crime fiction and non-fiction, and also took a few National Geographic magazines.
Arriving early at The Hub, Caleb had his hair cut and stayed and enjoyed lunch. Caleb was extremely grateful and spoke about the kindness shown to him personally, and his desire to pay it forward; he spoke (at length) about his desire to connect to community and how much The Hub gave him a chance to do so. [*Not his real name.]
The TFL Melbourne program has had a busy time, with 32 volunteering opportunities in April alone!
The team of 30 volunteers has been working hard to reach out to the most vulnerable in our community and has given away over 400 books and 60 magazines. We have used those interactions to connect and listen to people who often feel isolated and alone.
The regular book stalls at St Kilda, Queen Victoria Market, Flemington and Mitcham have been running weekly, even as the cold snap has hit. Our volunteers take great pride in chatting with readers and helping them select a book and beanie to keep them warm and occupied. We are also branching out in the West and running a book club at 1.30pm on Thursdays at the Maidstone Community Centre.
“The people (volunteers) are beautiful, they are not just giving away books, they are touching people’s lives, giving away love, loving people with books. The Footpath Library is a blessing.” Phillip.
Every Sunday morning, our volunteers set up alongside Perth Homeless Support Group in Moore Street between the Royal Perth Hospital and McIver Train Station. This site becomes a ‘one stop shop’ for people experiencing, or at risk of homelessness, providing access to hot meals and groceries, clothing, toiletries, shower and laundry services, and of course books and reading glasses.
The Footpath Library has been in this location for some years, making sure that quality books and reading glasses are available. The atmosphere is very much like a market day with up to 200 people in attendance, many bringing along pets and staying for the whole morning.
Our devoted regular group of volunteers and visiting readers enjoy the social interaction and it’s a great start to Sunday!
The Footpath Library also runs libraries at St Bart’s on Mondays and at the Peel Community Centre in Mandurah on Fridays and we have a new location starting soon, stay tuned!
“Books increase your vocabulary and are a form of relaxation. I read on the train or I go for a walk and sit in the sun and read my book. Books stimulate your imagination and relax you if you are having a stressful time. The volunteers are always friendly and help you choose a book or if you want one they don’t have, they will try to find it for you.” Doug