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staff member helping child check out a book using the self serve machine at Hanwell Community Library

More than just a library

A library is no longer just a quiet space to borrow or read a book. It is a community space that also offers warmth, company and a place to learn.

Run by volunteers since 2021, Hanwell Community Library is an inviting and friendly space where you can borrow and browse books, but also take part in a range of activities.

The library, in Cherington Road, also operates as a warm space in the winter months, where local people can take refuge from the cold weather, with a bank of board games to enjoy while keeping warm.

It is also home to the Ealing Law Centre, providing free help and advice to residents in W7 and W13 about welfare benefits, pension credit and other services. Interpreters are also available for anyone who might struggle with their English.

Committed to helping

Chloe Daniel, the library’s development worker, said: “We have a wonderful team of 75 volunteers who help to keep the service running and the building has been at the centre of this community for more than 100 years.

“It’s a great place to meet new friends and find out what’s going on in the community. We have volunteers of all ages, and they are so committed to helping.”

The volunteers run all of the groups and social activities, including a weekly knit and natter, computer workshops, a writing group and more. It even offers a homework help club, which are drop-in sessions run by former primary school teachers.

Meet and make friends

The youth club, for 14-17 year olds, has been running since November 2022 and has grown in popularity over the past months. It takes place once a fortnight, on Thursdays 5-6pm.

The youth club was set up by Dora Batalona and Priya Davies, who were in year 12 at school at the time.

Priya said: “We both felt there needed to be a space for like-minded teenagers to meet, relax and have fun in one another’s company.

“Coming out of COVID-19, many of our young people found it challenging to acclimatise to socialising when normal life resumed. We wanted somewhere for teenagers in Ealing to have the opportunity to meet and make new friends.”

She added that the library provides a safe space, where they can feel comfortable and welcome.

Each week, Priya and Dora organise an activity. This includes celebrity quizzes, colouring, cupcake decorating, team competitions and board games. Frustration and The Logo Game are the club’s favourite board games to play.

“Sometimes,” continued Priya, “people prefer to just chat over tea and biscuits about each other’s days, current affairs and any issues anyone faced in the week. We like to ensure the youth club is a flexible environment, and often take activity requests from attendees at the club. For example, one of our members of the club, Ffyon Wilcox, requested we had a cupcake decorating night. The club is welcome to all and is the perfect opportunity to meet like-minded people.”

‘Something for everyone’

Councillor Polly Knewstub, Ealing Council’s cabinet member for thriving communities, and Hanwell councillor, said: “I couldn’t be more proud of the Community Library and the brilliant work it does for the residents of Hanwell. It is a great place and the volunteers who make it happen week after week are a fantastic example of the Hanwell community spirit.

“I encourage everyone to pop in and enjoy it for themselves – there really is something for everyone.”

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