When Fallowfield Library was threatened with closure due to budget cuts, the local community, led by the Friends of Fallowfield, came together to save a place that meant so much to so many. The community members involved had the passion and determination but needed support to create a solid business plan to secure the library’s long-term future, which is where we came in. We formed a Charitable Incorporated Organisation to take over the lease and created The Place at Platt Lane, a modern and sustainable community library and resource centre now officially in community hands. Read more about the handover to the community on 29 July 2016 here.
The trustees have worked tirelessly with dedicated volunteers and a growing list of community groups and partner organisations to provide the activities and services which meet the needs of the local community. These include: English classes, an older people’s group to reduce social isolation, IT groups to increase digital inclusion, a number of faith group gatherings, councillors’ surgeries, rent surgeries, children’s arts and craft club, homework clubs and intergenerational knitting groups, as well as digital photography, ‘Women in Business’ and family history courses.
The journey has united the community, connecting people from all backgrounds and helping reduce isolation.
Ellen Kehoe, is an 89-year-old local resident who uses the library service, pops in to the book sales and attends the Forever Young social group and IT group, where she has learnt to send emails and exchange photographs with her family in Ireland.
"Everyone’s fought hard to save this place and it’s marvellous. It gets old people like me out and keeps my brain working. A lot of people say there’s nowhere to go but it’s a great pleasure coming here and making new friends. I tell everyone to come here and there are more coming along every week."
Ellen Kehoe, library user
"I feel very different from the person I was when I first started and I think that’s down to feeling part of the community. Having experienced social anxiety you can often feel like you are in your own bubble but you have to push beyond those familiar bubbles to try new things. Because I’d been a volunteer, I had lots of experience I could draw on during my interview. When I found out I’d been successful I was overwhelmed. It felt like positive recognition for my work and commitment."
Caroline Ellingham, former volunteer now employed as a library assistant.
Friends of Fallowfield felt very strongly about keeping this building open but we realised we needed some kind of partnership.
"Friends of Fallowfield felt very strongly about keeping this building open but we realised we needed some kind of partnership. Thankfully for us, One Manchester came along and in conjunction with them and the work we’ve done ever since, The Place has evolved. They’re not just a landlord there to take the rents off people and not give something back. They’ve given something back and in a very big way."
Lil, The Place at Platt Lane trustee