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Suffolk Libraries shortlisted for the High Sheriff’s Awards 2022

Suffolk Libraries is delighted to have been shortlisted under the ‘Supporting the Isolated’ category in this year’s High Sheriff’s Awards.

Over 130 nominations were received by Suffolk Community Foundation across six categories. The High Sheriff’s Awards are designed to reward the volunteers, charities and community groups in Suffolk who devote their time and energy to improve the communities in which they live and work, to make Suffolk a better and safer place.

The 'Supporting the Isolated’ award is sponsored by the East of England Co-op and ‘recognises how a group has worked during Covid and continued to use some of the learnings to help them progress and diversify delivery methods in order to support those in our community who have found themselves isolated, lonely and lacking in hope as a result of the pandemic.’

Liz Ditton, who nominated Suffolk Libraries for the Award, is a member of Kesgrave Library Community Group and a volunteer representative on the Board of Suffolk Libraries. Liz said:

“I have been incredibly impressed with the positive impact that Suffolk Libraries has had on people’s lives during the pandemic. Our staff have driven so many new ideas and initiatives to reach out to people, that I felt they deserved recognition for their remarkable commitment, professionalism and empathy. We’re thrilled to have been shortlisted for the High Sheriff’s Awards and are looking forward to hearing the final announcement next week.”

The Suffolk Libraries nomination covered several projects which were designed to make a difference during the pandemic and target those most at risk of becoming isolated or lonely.

The Suffolk Lifeline Service was set up within a few days of the start of the first lockdown and involved staff making telephone calls to vulnerable and older customers, offering a familiar, friendly voice and reassurance they’d not been forgotten. The service has now evolved into the volunteer-run Phone a Friend service and over 11,000 calls have been made over the past two years.

The newly launched Me, Myself and Baby perinatal service became a remote, online service for pregnant women and new parents, offering email support, telephone counselling and virtual coffee mornings. 

Suffolk Libraries also set up a Laptop Loan service to help bridge the digital divide for those with no computer or internet access at home.

Library staff also ran thousands of online activities during lockdown. More recently the Jumpstart January wellbeing campaign provided free online fitness sessions with thousands of people enjoying yoga, Pilates and exercise activities in both January 2021 and 2022.

All these new initiatives have had a legacy beyond the pandemic and are all still running in some way, further enhancing the huge range of services that Suffolk Libraries provides to improve well-being and make lives better.

The winners of the High Sheriff's Awards will be announced live on BBC Radio Suffolk on 16 March.