Citizens Advice H&F – More than a library

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Service description

The running of the Avonmore Library and Neighbourhood Centre by Citizens Advice H&F, funded by H&F Council, is a model of integrated service, with library clients also receiving advice.

Clients benefit from: 

  • Access to library services, including book-borrowing, as well as access to qualifications and flexible volunteering, to help residents develop skills, interests and aspirations
  • Promoting resources and support on rights and responsibilities, skills attainment and aspirations to empower residents, while giving them access to information and advice services
  • Assist residents to register on Learn My Way e-learning modules
  • Training and supporting digital champions within the community and volunteer team
  • Holding one-off community events, and hosting delivery by external partners

Funded until:

31 March 2018

Annual funding level:

£71,500

In the past year...

  • The library has held events to develop skills, promote independence and celebrate diversity. The 38 volunteers, giving up 3,500 hours of their time, have supervised 64,085 visits to the library. As well as council funding, £3,905 has been independently raised to support the service.

Outcome for residents:

  • TechTalk coffee mornings, averaging attendances of 20 per session, have covered subjects including online health, saving for Christmas and managing credit
  • 175 residents undertook the Learn My Way e-learning module, while staff responded to 4,145 book issues, and 1,934 residents accessed the Library Information Bank
  • Right Guide volunteers provided assisted self-help to 2,068 residents
  • Client computer use totalled 2,526 hours
  • More than 580 residents participated in activities.

Feedback:

Isabel, 65, was helped by a library digital champion to use her new laptop.  She signed up to Learn My Way and is now spreading the word among her elderly neighbours.
 
TechTalk user Matthew has needed a lot of one-to-one help over six weeks, and makes slow but steady progress as he becomes more independent with IT use. Without this project he would never have engaged with the digital world. He says he likes the fact that Learn My Way tracks his progress, so he can see his journey progressing.
 

Looking ahead:

Of the digital champions, 47% are CAHF volunteers, with the remainder from the local community. All report improved motivation to engage as a result of their work.

The library continues to host the Human Library in partnership H&F Volunteer Centre, focusing on addressing stereotypes and breaking down preconceptions.

In October 2016 the Library hosted a one-off staying safe online workshop, delivered by Childnet to 60 children from Avonmore school. 

The library has created a close partnership with 145 King Street, where the Universal Credit Hub has been created. The service priority is that clients’ journey to digital inclusion is continuous. Applicants have to deal with universal credit online, and can face benefit problems if they miss messages. A cross-referral agreement means King Street delivers initial application help, while the library’s digital champions continue support via the Learn My Way portal.

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