This house is your house
Offering a safe haven for refugees and overcoming linguistic barriers to create a space where everyone feels at home.
Storyhouse in Chester is a library and charity that creates experiences, places and platforms to give communities the opportunity to tell their stories.
In partnership with Cheshire, Halton and Warrington Race Equality Centre (CHAWREC), this challenge team wanted to support the hundreds of Ukrainian families and other refugees who have made Chester their home.
They wanted everyone to feel like the library is a safe and welcoming space for them – somewhere where they will feel a part of the community, as well as being able to access support, information and activities.
The challenge team is developing resources including translated guides, dual language keyboards and books chosen by refugees as something they would like to see in their own language.
Information about the library service is translated into multiple languages to help people understand what services are on offer so they feel confident of a warm welcome if they walk through the door.
The initiative is also working to break down other barriers that are harder to overcome – for example, by bringing the library to the community through audio books and visits.
Their dream result is that, in addition to the many community groups who have already made Storyhouse their home, new groups will be started by new communities – a Ukrainian Book Club, Pashto Digital Buddies, Arabic Chatter and Natter!
Developing partnerships is key for the initiative to continue and thrive. The team wants to build relationships with different communities to find out what they want and need from the library service and how they can make everyone feel welcome.
They also need to build trust between the library team and the communities they work with so that they can sustain and build on those relationships. Funding will also be crucial so that they can expand the resources for each new community they work with.