|Aspull’s Community Spirit
Front row left to right: Lisa Nandy MP for Wigan, Cllr Chris Ready Wigan Council Cabinet member for Leisure and Culture and Stuart Murray Chief Executive of WLCT.
Back row: Some of the 24 volunteers at Aspull Library (centre Cllr Ron Conway and Cllr John Hilton).
Residents in Aspull were thanked this week for showing true “community” spirit.
Eight months ago members of the community stepped in to help run their local library.
Faced with massive cuts of £1.1m, due to the national austerity measures, Wigan and Leigh’s entire library service was re-defined in 2011. But unlike some other authorities, where large numbers of libraries closed, in Wigan the picture is very different.
The new look library service reduced costs by reducing some opening hours in certain locations, relocating services and by maximising stock and staff rotation across libraries. It was developed in response to key information such as local demand, lifestyle needs and cost effectiveness.
Volunteering and community support has also played a major part in ensuring access to library services in some areas. At Aspull, 24 volunteers ensure that their friends, neighbours and fellow residents can still access their library.
And on Wednesday (August 1) local dignitaries thanked them personally for all their hard work.
Cabinet member for Leisure and Culture, Cllr Chris Ready, said: “The scale of the national cuts to the public sector have been, and still are, extremely tough.
“The library review was a wonderful example of how we could rise to the challenge of meeting such stringent cuts and maintain service for the people of the borough. Volunteering has played a key role in that and we’re extremely proud of the community spirit here in Aspull.”
Under the guidance of Kim Collins, Libraries Deputy Customer Service Business Manager and colleagues from Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust (WLCT) – who manage libraries on behalf of the council - volunteers are not only helping to keep the community facility up and running but flourishing. When the new volunteer run library opened in January the site was accessible for 11 hours a week. It’s now open for 19 hours a week and could open for longer with more volunteers.
Stuart Murray, Chief Executive of Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, said: “We’re extremely proud of the volunteers here at Aspull who do a tremendous job.
“People can volunteer for as long or as short as they want, they can pick what they’d like to do and they can have their say in how the library is developed.
“This is real community spirit in action and we’d encourage anyone thinking of volunteering to get in touch.”
Wigan’s Labour MP and Shadow Children’s Minister, Lisa Nandy, said: "Councils up and down the country have been forced to close much loved libraries because of the Government's spending cuts. I am delighted Wigan Council has found a way to keep our library service going, with the help of the local community."
Vince Broomhead, 73, has been volunteering at Aspull Library since January. He said: “It’s fantastic, I get a lot of enjoyment and personal satisfaction from it, they’re a great bunch of people here.”
For more information on events and activities taking place at Aspull Library visit www.wlct.org