Refugee twinning action meeting

workshop 2TWe had a very productive meeting last night and identified several great potential twinning projects. We showed the film again for those who had not been at the first meeting, and heard some great stories from people at the meeting with experience in Palestinian refugee camps in the 80s (Kitty) and Indian/Pakistan partition refugee camps in 1945 (Durgesh). A lot of the human issues are the same and there are inspiring examples from both these situations to inform our own project development.

The projects we are developing are described in a bit more detail below. We need somebody to lead each one with the aim of spending the next month exploring the idea, potential contacts etc. This leader does not have to make a commitment to deliver the project, it is more like being its first guide to see if it looks like something we could explore further.

Next time we meet we will together choose the two projects that seem most possible and of value to both our community and the people in the camp. Once they are underway we will move on to starting up the next two. We hope to involve more of you in these individual projects so if something appeals to you and your interests or you have a good contact who might be able to help, please get in touch with

All projects should be in tune with Bold Vision values:

Openness: for all, not elitist

Mutuality: benefits to both communities, not patronising, not a handout

Potentialising: raising skills and awareness for all involved

Courage: may mean thinking in new ways, going beyond our comfort zones

Ideas that have already progressed a little

Bilingual Youth

Idea: Bring together young people in London learning Arabic and young people in the camp who want to learn English. Involve library donations and understanding of Arabic literature. Possible support from SOAS and British Lbrary. We also have a refugee volunteer in the camp who speaks and teaches English informally and is willing to coordinate.

Intention: Cultural exchange, improved understanding of Arab culture in London,

Leader: Soile

Knitting / Craft circles

Idea: create easy entry, safe neighbourhood eg per block where women can gather in each others houses on a rotation basis to spend an hour doing craftwork together. We could gather donated materials and teach a few leaders who could then teach each other. Could be communal knitting projects eg knitting blanket squares for the newest arrival / baby, knitting an art collage for the ‘street’. Search skills data base / advertise for those who already know how.

Intention: Encourage connections between women in the camp to improve well being and mental health.

Leader: Kitty

Music with children

Idea: create a combined choir sharing songs between Edmund Waller and school in the camp. To sing together via live streaming and to send recordings of each other singing each other’s songs.

Intention: Cultural exchange as well as interesting activity and human connection for both groups of children

Leader: ?


Idea: create action focus for men to come together and redress their sense of powerlessness to protect and provide for their families. Eg build a children’s playground together, build a shaded seating area by water tap

Intention: build connections, improve well being, benefit of new facilities and sense of pride / ownership

Leader: tbc but Anshu will kick off

Peace Rocks

Idea: have a peace rock dipping event during Jan / Feb and create a version of the house diamonds in the Hill Station. Partner with Ministry of Peace campaign?

Intention: sense of connection, raise awareness

Leader: Catherine

Other possibilities in early stages of development

Thrivers or survivors: use of simple, first aid type psychological support (eg Talk for Health course that we ran – via RSA – at New Cross Learning or the Dementia training that Judy Harrington has offered to do at Hill Station or New Cross Learning)

Forum Theatre / drama as suggested by Sylvestre Le Touzel Teale at last meeting. ? Using Cardboard Citizens style techniques. John will discuss with Bold Backer Adrian Jackson

Cooking Circles: cooking on a gas ring and with limited ingredients is a challenge, especially for those who are used to a full kitchen in their former life. Bold Vision project Grow Wild face similar challenges with their field kitchen. Possibility of recipe sharing, technique sharing, competitions (like Ready, Steady Cook where the limited ingredients are part of the concept)

Mobile library: create a small library that can be wheeled around the camp (eg using this kind of robust wagon). Train teenagers to be library drivers and manage the process. Develop a sense of community (like all running out for the ice cream van or – in my day J – the pop man, the egg man ad the knife sharpening man), increase access to books for those not allowed to live home.

School link: explored idea of cultural interaction through play between children at John Stainer school and those in the camp. Playground games exchange? Stories? Drawings?workshop 2T


The Funding Network shows its support

On Saturday Mar 17th, Gill Hart, Kath Dunbar, Rebecca Charikar and myself set off for our try at the “Dragon’s Den” of The Funding Network. This organisation was set up ten years ago to give individuals with the means and the will to donate to charity a more meaningful way to do so. We presented our story along with four other great charities and then waited with fingers crossed while the 30 or so members and visitors made their pledges.

We were delighted to go a little over our (hopeful) target and raised £5,426. As per our application this will be used for 3 things

  1. finishing the participatory artwork to breathe new life into the front of the former library (still time to participate… just fill in a couple of details here to have your book feature)
  2. finding out what learning opportunities are of most interest to the library users – and provide them
  3. develop sustainable tools to help us manage our volunteers and other resources and connect to other organisations
The money is great and it was heartening to hear so much positive feedback from the Funding Network people – they see New Cross Learning as an innovative community-driven and flexible model that many traditional libraries could learn from.

RSA Catalyst supporting library

See the video here. We have already received a £2000 grant from the RSA Catalyst fund to create the new participatory artwork for the former library in New Cross and this week we featured in the RSA e-newsletter

Remember you can be part of this too by completing page 2 of this kit ourbookshelf

New artwork at New Cross Library

Do you have a favourite book? Or one you wish existed? Maybe that one up your sleeve that you will write yourself one day?

Well now’s your chance to get into print. Come along to the Artmongers workshop at the library on Nov 18th to make your part of this exciting new artwork. Secondary school children 3.30-5pm, adults 6-8pm



Mad Hatters Tea Party Sep 17

Hi Friends of NXPL

First of all, a very big thank you to all of you who have enabled us to get this far with the venture of the Library being open again 3 days a week. This is now mainly under the supervision of volunteers.

If you don’t follow us on twitter then you won’t know that 316 people passed through the doors yesterday. We literally had to throw people out last night, so we will soon have to consider extending our late night on a Thursday! Poets Corner is a success and our local poets in residency will soon be taking their wares into Deptford Green School for taster sessions and then continuing workshops in the Library on Thursday 4:30-5:30. Evidence of their work will be heard at the Tea Party on Saturday when two of the poetry competition competitors recite their work.

Saturday 17th is a very busy day this week. The usual will be on offer plus…

  • 11:45 under 7s storytelling from favourite children’s books along with creative activities.
  • 2:00   Knitting Club for all abilities
  • 3:00   Creative Workshop for 8-15year olds (a few places still available) led by local artist John Paul Flintoff
  • 5:00   Tea Party with lots of lovely cakes and cups of teas (with saucers)Raffles, Poetry reading, Rap and a trio of local lads who met at primary school

The Tea Party is a fundraising event, equally it is a way of thanking everyone for their support. We need money for the rent and running costs to keep the library open by volunteers, so any donation will be well spent, what is important is that you come. We need to use it, we don’t want to lose it again.

Look forward to seeing so many of you tomorrow,

Gill (Hart)

Volunteer and chair of New Cross People’s Library

New Cross People’s Library: progress! and summer hours

Bold Vision and the New Cross People’s Library met with Lewisham Council this week – and made good progress. We are arranging a short term licence for August opening to be followed by a Tenancy at Will.

Meanwhile holiday opening is  Tuesdays and Thursdays 10am to 1pm with childrens activities running 11.45am-12.45pm during the school holidays. This opening offers

  • summer reading scheme
  • regular borrowing
  • note no computer access though

The more we show we like having a library the more chance we have of keeping it so go along if you can.