Books Beyond Words: £92,000 to help people with learning difficulties in Harrow

Harrow is one of four London boroughs to take part in a pilot project helping people with multiple learning difficulties lead a better life through art and literature.

1.5 million people in the UK have a learning disability. Without support, they can suffer from low aspirations, lack of independence and social isolation.

The Arts Council is awarding £92,206 to a project to tackle this: Books Beyond Words Plus. The project will provide designated spaces and expert library services for people with learning difficulties in Croydon, Ealing, Hounslow and Harrow.

It is led by Cultural Community Solutions Ltd, who deliver library services on behalf of the local authorities.
In collaboration with partner organisations specialising in adult social care and education, Books Beyond Words Plus will deliver a programme of activities for adults with different learning abilities, encouraging creative expression, and leading to increased literacy, social confidence and pathways into work.

Cllr Sue Anderson, portfolio holder for community, culture and resident engagement:

“I am delighted that our library service has been awarded funding for this project, which has the overarching theme of “Getting into Work”. The project will use literature, drama and art to help residents with learning disabilities develop a greater understanding of the world around them and the skills and confidence needed to get a job. I am sure this will be a fantastic experience for them.”

Joyce Wilson, London Area Director, Arts Council England, said:

"This project acknowledges that not everyone accesses literature in the same way, so they can miss out on the enormous sense of fulfilment, and the range of life skills that literature, along with other forms of arts and culture, can bring. It’s so important that people have these doors opened to them. I’m glad we’ve been able to support this project’s delivery across a wide area of London."

The money is from a new fund from the Arts Council and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS): The Libraries Opportunities for Everyone Innovation Fund. Launched in December 2016 as part of The Libraries Taskforce strategy to help create successful and sustainable public library services, the fund aims to support innovative activity in England’s public libraries. The investment will support libraries to help build a fairer society and deliver opportunities for disadvantaged communities across the country.

More than £3.9million has been awarded to 30 local authorities’ libraries across the country, including four others in London: Merton, Greenwich, Lewisham and Redbridge.