Simon Danczuk MP

Fighting for Rochdale, Littleborough and Milnrow

Letter from Parliament 1 April

ONE of the quirks of the Parliamentary schedule is that the House of Commons often enters recess at the same time as pupils across the country are getting ready to enjoy their school holidays.

But while many children (and one or two MPs) are understandably excited by the prospect of the Easter break, some young people in the UK will dread the time away from school.

Education provides routine, structure, stimulation and, in the case of pupils receiving free school meals, a vital source of nutrition. Without this support over Easter, and worse still over the long summer break, school holidays can be a miserable time for vulnerable and disadvantaged children in Rochdale.

At times like this, we are lucky that Rochdale Council has so many thriving and well-run local libraries that can help fill this void.

Libraries are evolving and there are many innovative ideas about how they can do more than just loan out books.

Labour councillors in Smallbridge this week secured up to £5,000 of funding to run a pilot scheme at Smallbridge Library providing free healthy meals to local children from low income families during school holidays. The scheme, called “Feed and Read”, has the added bonus of encouraging the young people to get involved with literacy.

As someone who was brought up on free school meals, and only came to reading relatively late on, I can fully understand the benefits that a project like this could have.

But this is just one example of how valuable libraries can be as a resource for the whole community.

Libraries in Rochdale, as in towns and cities across the UK, have struggled to cope with Government cuts over the last six years.

But, as you would expect from a town like ours, the local community has responded wonderfully to this adversity. We now have almost five times more volunteers working in our libraries than we did in 2010.

A quick glance at all the incredible services and workshops on offer across the borough shows how far libraries have come in recent years. From digital workshops for job seekers to creative writing classes and coffee mornings, there is something for everyone and there has never been a better time to get involved with your local library.

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