Article date – 21 June 2018
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.”
Photo caption: 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.