LIBRARIES across Renfrewshire have been helping residents discover a “new lease of life.”

Locals in Ferguslie have been crafting new ways to beat isolation with creative sessions at the library.

The sessions, which focus on people who have experienced social isolation and poor health because of the pandemic, are supported by the Scottish Government Public Library Covid Recovery Fund.

They take place in libraries across Renfrewshire, with classes including embroidery, card-making, working with clay, crafts and other areas such as creative writing, bookbinding and notebook-making, to bring the link back to libraries.

Candice Haston, 24, from Ferguslie, who attended a card-making session at the library says she’s been going through “a hard patch” after losing both her dad and partner in the last year, all while looking after her mum full time.

The Ferguslie woman said: “I don’t really have a social life like I used to. But now, I come to the library, and I enjoy getting out and the escape and relief this can provide.

“Especially with Covid, I’m still a bit panicky, but it’s getting better.”

While Margaret Canning, 75, from Ferguslie has been a community volunteer for more than three decades and helped organise playschemes for children when the library first opened.

The 75-year-old said: “The staff do a wonderful job and this is the second wee session I’ve been to and it’s been a tremendous success.

“I know everybody and everybody knows me, but I had a stroke and I lost quite a bit of my memory after being in hospital for seven weeks.

“It gets me out of the house and helps to build back my confidence.”

The Gazette:

Valerie O’Regan, a visual artist and art teacher, has led sessions at Glenbar, Foxbar, and Johnstone libraries, as well as Ferguslie Library.

The art teacher said: “These classes have been amazing.

“Some people come in a little bit timid at first, but once everyone gets to have a wee chat, they all relax and group connect in our libraries which are safe places.

“Some people have not left their homes since Covid, they’ve been anxious and alone, but they trust their libraries as a welcoming and it’s a lovely, safe space.

“These are great opportunities to get together, be creative and maybe even learn a new skill and we all need a bit of company every once in a while.”

Working on the project for the last year, library arts co-ordinator, Amy Errington said: “For some, it’s the only human contact they might have that week and for them, it’s life-changing.

“I had one woman who is recovering from cancer and she said coming to the session was the first time she had been out of the house in a year.

“I had another participant who told me she sits at home all day and doesn’t speak to anybody, but coming to the group was the first time she had spoken for ages.

“You know that it makes a huge difference. Seeing people laughing, hearing the conversation and staying behind after to have a chat – that’s fantastic.”

The Gazette: Locals in Ferguslie have been crafting new ways to beat isolation with creative sessions at the libraryLocals in Ferguslie have been crafting new ways to beat isolation with creative sessions at the library (Image: Supplied)

Pamela Tulloch, chief executive of the Scottish Library and Information Council believes libraries play a valuable role in promoting social inclusion, tackling inequality, and reconnecting communities.

She said: “For many, their local libraries are a real lifeline and it is encouraging to see this working so well across Renfrewshire.

“As well-used social and cultural spaces, they are making a positive contribution to the health and wellbeing agenda.”