The Home Library Service, part of Hampshire Libraries, is making a difference to hundreds of residents who find it difficult to access their local library, and have friendly volunteers visit them instead.
The free service is for anyone who struggles to get out due to health issues, mobility problems or caring responsibilities.
Specially trained volunteers are matched with members of their own communities and they deliver a wide range of library materials including large print, audio books, images from our reminiscence collection, and specialist books such as titles designed for anyone living with dementia. In Alton, two gentlemen, both interested in old motorbikes and rock ‘n’ roll and country and western music, were matched and in Waterlooville a male customer living with dementia is taken books on birds and nature and loves discussing his hobby – some discs with bird song on have been a real hit.
Our volunteers visit their customers usually once a month and good friendships have formed through the service. “The people I deliver to are so grateful for the service and always eager to chat, I find it very rewarding,” said one of our volunteers. “I find it lovely building up a rapport with these lovely people. I not only talk with them about the books, but also everyday life events, family, flowers, gardening, holidays, the weather. It’s a real pleasure to help in this way, and to see the joy it brings each time I come in with the books is highly rewarding.”
Being given the opportunity to help people in the community in a very practical way is one of the main motivators, and many volunteers tell us of the big impact it has had on their lives, and it’s easy to see why. “The biggest reward of all came when the customer was so thrilled with the new authors I found for him in his areas of interest and in the formats I had been able to deliver, he told me it had changed his life, giving him new interest to replace sitting in front of the TV for much of the day.” The welcoming smile on the face of the recipient is a reward in itself, we were told, and customers have become like extended family to some volunteers.
Others have told us how being retired can be lonely, but the Home Library Service gets them out and doing something for someone else. “The eldest I visit is 104 and the youngest is 88. They all love talking about the past and the things they have done. Equally they like to listen to the things you’ve done since your last visit – the time goes so fast you can spend 45 minutes just chatting.”
Customers have commented that the service has been a ‘real lifeline’. One woman has told us how grateful she is for the service as she can’t get out and her husband can no longer walk or drive. Another said she was worried when the mobile library stopped, but now she is very happy with her volunteers and the ‘splendid’ service. One lady said it was better than she could choose herself!
We currently have around 360 volunteers visiting over 670 customers across the county and we’d like to expand the service to reach out to anyone who needs it.
If you, or someone you know would benefit, or you would like to join our team of volunteers, contact us using the online inquiry form
Telephone 0300 555 1387
Textphone 0300 555 1390