Woolwich Library secures European funding for democracy project
Charitable social enterprise GLL, which operates public libraries and leisure centres in partnership with local authorities under the Better brand, has been awarded £10,000 from the annual Europe Challenge Programme that works to address social isolation and inequality. It is one of only 55 library and community spaces from across Europe to receive Programme funding.
From January 2024 Woolwich library will launch a voter engagement initiative, hosting community masterclasses on democratic participation and voter registration. Support will also be given to those with low levels of literacy and digital literacy, for example helping to fill out the forms required for Voter ID.
The library will partner with Woolwich’s Service Users Project (WSUP) a grassroots organisation that provides practical and emotional support to local residents around issues such as homelessness, financial hardship, mental health and addiction. Research shows that a high proportion of WSUP members are not currently democratically active.
Woolwich Library will also support WSUP’s art therapy classes as part of the scheme. The classes will culminate in an art exhibition, based on the theme of democracy, which will be hosted within the library when the initiative ends in September 2024.
Commenting on the funding award, GLL’s Library Project Manager for Woolwich Library, Patrick Malone said: “A healthy society is built upon high democratic involvement and the Europe Challenge Programme funding will help us to tackle the immensely important issue of low voter engagement amongst certain demographic groups.”
André Wilkens, Director of the European Cultural Foundation added: “Libraries are more than just houses for books; they are the lifeblood of European communities. They provide safe spaces, foster education, combat social inequalities, and build resilient societies.
“The Europe Challenge is on the frontline of breathing new life into European libraries. I am excited to see so many communities and libraries across Europe taking creative action to solve challenges and improve social and environmental well-being”.