Suffolk Libraries launch new scheme to help jobseekers

Ipswich County Library is closed after a member of staff contracted Covid-19 Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Suffolk Libraries are supporting those looking for jobs - Credit: Archant

A new service providing telephone support for jobseekers and also people claiming benefits has been launched by Suffolk Libraries. 

The aim of the scheme is to provide a dedicated helpline to replicate the support which staff would normally be able to provide customers in libraries.  

Anyone can call the number 07735  576788 to book a phone call of up to 30 minutes or email here.

The call can cover anything from signposting to other organisations who can help provide help guidance on where to get started with looking for jobs, updating your CV or applying for benefits.

Chief Executive of Suffolk Libraries, Bruce Leeke said: "Along with our new laptop lending scheme, Device to Your Door, this is another way of providing help where it’s most needed.

"Even during a pandemic our libraries are keen to continue to be a gateway to opportunity for people across Suffolk.

"Eventually we hope these kind of conversations will be possible in libraries again, but for now our aim is to provide as much support as we can in a safe way."

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The new service will also provide help with issues such as apprenticeships, hardship/welfare grants, money and pensions advice and learning and digital skills. 

Library staff will not be able to fill out any forms or apply for jobs on other people’s behalf but they will be able to direct people to the correct organisations for more in-depth advice.  

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It is hoped it will ease some of the pressure from other partner organisations who are in demand as jobless rates rise and benefit claims increase due to the pandemic.

The phone will be covered during normal office hours Monday to Friday but you can leave a message outside of these hours. 

Libraries are set to reopen as use of their online services doubles

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Libraries across Suffolk will partially reopen next week after being closed for six weeks during the current lockdown for safety reasons.

With infection rates now much lower in the county, Suffolk Libraries has decided that from Monday, February 15 the Select and Collect service and reservations will resume so that people can request and pick up items from their library.

Not every library will open at once and people are advised to check their branch details on the Suffolk Libraries website as full dates and details are currently being finalised.

Felixstowe Library

Felixstowe Library - Credit: RICHARD CORNWELL

Newmarket, Elmswell and Lakenheath libraries will remain closed for now due to building work at these libraries.

A Suffolk Libraries spokesman said: "We’d like to reassure customers that there will be no rush to bring items back as the return date for current loans has been extended until 1 March. All new library loans from next week will be given an extended six-week return date.

"Browsing inside libraries and the use of computers will remain unavailable for the time being. The mobile library services and home library service will also remain suspended for now."

During the lockdown libraries have been encouraging bookworms to use their online platform - and with huge success.

The highest ever number of online applications to join the library service were recorded during January with nearly 600 people signing up for a library card.

There have also been record figures for eLibrary borrowing over the first month of the year. Nearly 3,300 people used the Overdrive eBook service during the week of January 25, downloading over 8,000 books.

These weekly figures have doubled since March 2020 and have been rising since Christmas.

It was a record week for the BorrowBox eAudiobook service too with over 1,000 customers downloading over 1,600 titles. The number of people using the Pressreader online newspaper and magazine service has also been increasing since Christmas.

Bruce Leeke, chief executive of Suffolk Libraries

Bruce Leeke, chief executive of Suffolk Libraries - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Bruce Leeke, chief executive of Suffolk Libraries, said: “Even more people are using our eLibrary services and engaging with us than during the first lockdown. These figures show there is a huge demand for information, entertainment and other ways of maintaining wellbeing in these challenging times and they fulfil the dual role of keeping people safe at home too."

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