Peter Barnett, Cllr Dr Kindy Sandhu and Lord Mayor Kevin Maton

Coventry Libraries have achieved the nationally recognised Libraries of Sanctuary Award in a presentation held at Central Library on Tuesday 17 January 2023.

​Libraries of Sanctuary is an initiative to inspire, support and promote the use of public libraries as places of welcome for people seeking sanctuary in the UK. It recognises the good practice of libraries which welcome new arrivals into their community and seek to foster a culture of welcome and inclusivity.

Coventry has long been recognised as a City of Peace and more recently has been awarded the 'City of Sanctuary' accolade for the work that Coventry does to welcome people to the city. The open welcome extends to refugees, asylum seekers, migrants and people wanting to make a new start in their lives.

The city had adopted a One Coventry model as a way of working which describes how libraries work and collaborate with partners and communities to ensure that residents get the very best that the city can offer. The Libraries of Sanctuary award reemphasises this commitment to people in Coventry.

Coventry Public Libraries Service is a vital part of the journey of refugees, migrants and people seeking sanctuary in Coventry.

Free membership, free use computers, welcoming spaces and understanding staff are all part of what makes a warm welcome for everyone using libraries in the city.

Cllr Dr Kindy Sandhu, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: "It's wonderful news that our fantastic Library Service has been nationally recognised and achieved the Libraries of Sanctuary award. The team have worked tremendously hard to make this happen, and I am very proud of everyone involved.

"This is just the start of the exciting journey. The team will continue to work with those seeking sanctuary to further develop our services in the future".

Library Services have looked at ways in which they could make the welcome more helpful and meaningful to those seeking sanctuary. This has included employing staff who speak Arabic and Dari, setting up friendly sessions to support those wanting to practice and improve their spoken English, using library spaces for welcome meetings for Ukrainian refugees and ensuring that all staff are aware of the reasons why people may be seeking sanctuary and what they can do to help.

Watch what else Cllr Dr Kindy Sandhu has to say.

Published: Thursday, 19th January 2023