During the build up to Empathy Day last week (12th June) – St Helens Library Service had been involved in an exciting new project surrounding health and wellbeing.
In conjunction with three other national library authorities, Essex, Devon Libraries Unlimited and Sheffield, St Helens Library Service has taken part in ‘Empathy Lab’ – a unique initiative to investigate how reading and libraries can build empathy skills within children.
Funded by Engaging Libraries – a new partnership between the Carnegie UK Trust and Wellcome – ‘Empathy Lab’ saw library staff engage with customers and partners across Eccleston and Newton-le-Willows libraries to ask the question: ‘what are the issues in our community where more empathy would help?’
Alongside award-winning children’s author, Bali Rai, Empathy Cafés were delivered at both libraries where Bali led a discussion on ‘being human’ – focusing on differences such as looks, tastes and backgrounds.
Hailing the impact of the project, St Helens Council’s portfolio holder for libraries, Councillor Anthony Burns, said: “Empathy is a core life skill, so by getting involved with projects like this is an opportunity to encourage further understanding of being different and other people’s situations through books – empowering children and their families to think differently, challenging our attitudes and behaviours towards each other as a result.”
Main photo – Pupils from St Peter’s C.E Primary School in Newton-le-Willows joined family members, library staff and children’s author Bali Rai for an Empathy Café session in Newton-le-Willows. Library.