Could visiting your library stop you from falling ill?
PUBLISHED: 05:44 05 October 2019 | UPDATED: 19:37 06 October 2019
Most people might think a visit to the doctor, therapy or some medication would be the best ways to prevent them from falling ill.
But now surprising new research has revealed libraries are saving Suffolk's NHS £284,000 a year - by providing "lifeline" activities which stop people becoming unwell.
Suffolk Libraries is holding a day of celebration on Saturday, October 12 to celebrate the vital role they play in their communities.
And now a new report produced with Moore Kingston Smith Fundraising, called Suffolk Libraries: A Predictive Impact Analysis, says that groups such as Top Time and Sporting Memories for older people help to prevent loneliness and isolation, which can lead to other health complications.
Groups for younger people like Tot Time and Baby Bounce can have a similar effect, helping families understand how to develop their mental health and wellbeing.
Bruce Leeke, chief executive of Suffolk Libraries, said: "The services we run help people engage in activities which possibly prevent them from going into a negative health spiral but also help support them by making connections in the community which can help them outside of the library.
"There's one we do with children in their early years called Baby Bounce and Tot Rock, Open Space which is basically a wellbeing service which helps people to understand how to develop better mental health and wellbeing.
"The final one is Top Time, which is where people over the age of 55 come together in a group and through that network meet friends."
He added: "When you look at mental health, people tip into that bucket of where they really need genuine support from a health care professional as they move up the spectrum from stressed through different mental health conditions.
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"We are helping people who are stressed before they need that NHS support."
Mr Leeke said libraries have changed a lot from the days when they simply loaned books to avid readers.
"A traditional library user will have come to the library basically to fulfil a transaction but as times have changed over the last 15 or 20 years people more and more come here for that connection and the numbers in the impact report bear that out," he said.
Suffolk Libraries Day, he said, is designed to "raise awareness that libraries have a hugely diverse offering".
However he fears that many people don't know about a lot of their work.
"The most important thing is that we are helping people make connections," he said.
"There needs to be a change in the narrative about libraries because people don't understand them in that context."
For more detail about Suffolk Libraries Day, click here.