Letters: a safe space at the library

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A safe space at the library.

Dear Messenger,

I agree with Mr Vaughan in the last issue of The Messenger that it would be good to have a fully-funded, professionally staffed library in Burngreave. However, I take issue with his implication that the current volunteer-staffed library is somehow failing young people in the community

The library is used by children on a daily basis, from preschoolers to young adults, whether to borrow books, use computers, read stories with their parents or simply to find a quiet corner to read for a while. We have regular school visits. A couple of dozen children just completed the annual Summer Reading Challenge and received their certificates and medals from the Lord Mayor. We have a very busy homework club, story time sessions, and in the school holidays we run craft and activity events and drama workshops. I doubt there are many branch libraries in the city that do more.

As for his claim that the library is not a neutral safe space, the fact that the library is in Sorby House with a permanently-staffed reception area makes it more safe not less. Indeed, the library has been officially designated as a public Safe Space where vulnerable or troubled people can find a temporary refuge from the street where they will be welcomed and cared for till they’re ready to return.

Martin Jordin (one of the volunteers)


Dear Messenger,

Martin Vaughan wrote a letter expressing concern about the state of the grounds of the former library on Spital Hill, now owned by Rock Christian Centre.

Can we assure Martin that we do a litter sweep at least once a week and have now collected in excess of 1,500 needles, many knives, as well as countless sacks of rubbish.

We also pay a contractor to try to keep control of the rat infestation caused by the large amount of food remnants dumped on the site from customers of the many takeaways on Spital Hill. We also have a contractor who helps to keep control of the trees and plants on the site.

The litter problem on the site has been greatly increased by the relocation of the bus stop right outside our office entrance. It is sad to see so many bus passengers sit on our wall and discard their cans, wrappers, unwanted clothes and shopping over the wall, when there is a street bin adjacent to the bus stop!

We urge all Burngreave people, young and old, to take pride in Spital Hill, their local community high street, and to discard their rubbish in the council street bins provided.

In particular we appeal to drug users to dispose of their needles and paraphernalia in a responsible manner, not on a site that is often used by children and vulnerable adults.

Jon Watts, Senior Pastor – Rock Christian Centre


Dear Messenger,

Mr Vaughan (Letters, Messenger 137) is confused about the status of Burngreave Library. The library is not “in SOAR” but in Sorby House, alongside Burngreave’s one stop shop for Council services, where it has been for the last four years. In response to enormous government cuts to the local authority budget, Sheffield City Council, the Friends of Burngreave Library and SOAR now work in partnership to keep vital library services available to the people of Burngreave. This is only possible through the great work of the library’s dedicated team of volunteers.

I do share Mr Vaughan’s concerns about the sustainability of a volunteer-run model in the longer term, however, and would encourage him and other Messenger readers to join the 10,000 signatories who have signed the e-petition at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/228742 which is seeking a parliamentary debate on the funding future of library services.

Fran Belbin

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