The Eastville Library has closed...long live the Old Library Eastville !

September 29 2016
Thumbnail Image

The Eastville Library, closed in March 2016 due to Council cuts, has been formally taken over by a volunteer run residents group

The Eastville Library, closed in March 2016 due to Council cuts, has been formally taken over by a volunteer run residents group, South Lockleaze & Purdown Neighbourhood Group C.I.C. with exciting plans underway to transform the space into a vibrant social hub for the community, by the community, in the heart of South Lockleaze.

Last year, 7 of Bristol’s libraries were threatened with closure, due to a major £1.1 million saving required by Bristol City Council in the library budget. However plans were revised, and only Eastville Library was axed, whilst other libraries had to make major staff cuts and reduce the number of hours they could provide the service.

The South Lockleaze & Purdown Neighbourhood Group C.I.C. (SLAP) was formed in 2015 to help drive forward the campaign around Saving South Purdown and to improve community activities & recognition of the needs of the area. When recognising their only community building in walking distance was set to close, the group set their sights on taking over the building to transform it into a much needed hub for meeting neighbours, sharing skills and running activities.

“With no other community facility in the area, our newly formed residents group took it upon ourselves to fight for this building to be transferred to our community, with the idea that together, through people power and great community spirit, we could transform the building into a 100% volunteer run, vibrant multi-use space that helps us bring together people & families, and enable us to lead a project that we as a neighbourhood and the wider City of Bristol can be proud of,” commented Emily, resident in Elmcroft Crescent and Chair of the South Lockleaze & Purdown Neighbourhood Group C.I.C.

The vision is to provide activities and workshops, a community cafe, play area, edible & sensory garden, along with a community run book swap, computers and lounge space. The building and garden space provide a gateway to our beloved Purdown and the group aim to create a space where residents can gather, learn, socialise & share, empowering the community to make positive changes and providing resources that the neighbourhood truly wants, and needs.

“People from all walks of life, ages, and backgrounds have used this library space in the past 66 years, and the closure of this space has been devastating for children, adults, families and the elderly alike.

We truly believe that keeping this space for the community is vital to improving the wellbeing and happiness of thousands of residents and visitors to the beautiful green space of Purdown and Stoke Park,” commented David Walwin, resident of Lindsay Road and Treasurer of the South Lockleaze & Purdown Neighbourhood Group C.I.C.

Since receiving the keys on the 1st May 2016, the team have held make days, where residents have been involved in upcycling furniture, decorating the space, creating a community garden and building a café counter, and have been busy collecting donations including computers and equipment. They have also been hard working on getting events in the diary, promoting the space as a hireable facility for groups and workshops, getting new volunteers on board to share skills and help drive the project forwards, alongside running a successful fundraising campaign to help get the project off the ground.

“We recognise that people in this area of Lockleaze have often felt forgotten and unheard, with many feeling a lack of and unrecognised as a neighbourhood. Now, we are changing that through positive community action to create a space we can learn together, play together and be together - a project for the community, by the community,” added Emily.

The South Lockleaze & Purdown Neighbourhood Group C.I.C. and the people involved in The Old Library urge residents and groups to get involved in anyway possible – whether you can spare time for gardening, help organise a fundraising event, bake cakes, write a blog, pick up a paintbrush, donate a raffle prize or volunteer in the café – the group truly believes that everyone has a skill they can share to make their neighbourhood a better place to live.

The project is currently open for ad-hoc events and hiring, and aims to be publicly open with a café from September 12th. The Old Library launch event will be held on the 10th September, with games, BBQ, bar, entertainment, music & crafts for all the family to enjoy! Definitely one for the diary!

Visit the website: www.theoldlibrary.org.uk or get in touch with the team via email: southlockleaze@gmail.com or on Facebook “The Old Library, Eastville”, or on Twitter @OldLibrary_EV.