Storyhouse library takes on the Europe Project!

The Europe Project is a Europe-wide initiative that challenges a library and a community to work together to solve a problem that they have identified in their area.

The issue that we identified was that our library services are not currently as accessible as we’d like them to be for people who do not speak English as a first language. This is particularly relevant in Chester right now because, at the time of applying to the initiative, it was estimated that there would be approximately 500 refugees arriving in the city from Ukraine, and that number continues to increase. In addition, a number of refugees have recently been resettled in Chester from Afghanistan.

Georgina West, Storyhouse’s Communities Manager, tells us, “we have identified the communities who will be most in need of the free services that we offer via the library, but who also have, potentially, the least ability to access those services currently, without any extra support and without us offering those services in other languages.”

Storyhouse library

So, how do we start to address the problem? Storyhouse are partnering with an organisation called CHAWREC (Chester Halton and Warrington Race Equality Centre) who provide refugees and asylum seekers with legal, immigration and language support. We are working with them to create more of a link between their base and the Storyhouse library, in particular, but with the hope that this will also extend to other libraries in the Cheshire West network in the future.

Steps that we plan to take to make our library services more accessible include providing information in multiple languages such as how to join the library, what facilities we offer and IT support. We can then provide these translations to all of the libraries across the Cheshire West network.

We have a budget to source books in other languages, which is something that Georgina is keen to do in collaboration with the communities that we will be working with, so that they can choose the books that they would like to see in the library.

Additionally, we will also run some of our regular activities such as Storytime and Rhymetime in more languages.


The idea is that, through this project, the Storyhouse library will be able to welcome more people from the wider community, and our services, and our building as a whole, will become more accessible.

Georgina shares her hopes for the project: “I hope that some of the people from these communities will feel like Storyhouse is their home in the same way that some of our regular communities do now. I hope that we’ll be seen as a trusted source of information and support. And I hope that it will enable refugees to access some of the existing communities that we have at Storyhouse, so that, for example, they are able to join a group or come and see a show!”