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Popular schemes to continue following successful funding bids

09 December 2022

Two popular schemes run by Cambridgeshire County Council's Libraries service will be extended after funding was secured.

The news that the Library Presents scheme and the Business & IP Centre (BIPC) will both continue caps a positive year for Cambridgeshire Libraries, with the service making strong progress as it recovers from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The announcement was highlighted in the service’s annual report, which was presented to councillors during a meeting of the authority's Communities, Social Mobility and Inclusion Committee held at New Shire Hall yesterday (Thursday 8 December).

The Library Presents, which has brought arts activities to Cambridgeshire Libraries since 2018, will continue from April 2023 until 2026 following a successful funding application to Arts Council England.

Councillor Tom Sanderson, chair of the Communities, Social Mobility and Inclusion Committee, said: “We are extremely grateful for this positive decision, so many people have enjoyed and benefitted from the programme and we are immensely pleased that we can continue bringing great arts to local libraries.

“The programme is managed and supported by the council and it relies heavily on library venues and library staff as well as volunteers, partners, sponsors and the small delivery team we have in place. Now is a good time to thank all those involved in making the programme inclusive, exciting and engaging for all ages. We are looking forward to more of the same for the next three years.”

Meanwhile, funding has been secured via Cambridgeshire Skills to enable the BIPC to continue to support small businesses across the county until March 2024.

The BIPC provides free and low-cost support and to business owners, entrepreneurs, and inventors including events and workshops, one to one sessions and access to resources. The scheme’s annual Jumpstart awards, which offers businesses the chance to apply for up to £20,000 in grants, recently took place having attracted several applications. So far this year, the BIPC has had 400 engagements with business owners across 78 events and received a further 162 enquiries.

Cllr Sanderson added: “The BIPC continues to provide unique and vital support to newly established businesses, helping to develop our local economy. Again, I am delighted the scheme can continue and look forward to seeing it develop and achieve positive outcomes.”

Members heard that the Libraries service continues to make good progress post Covid. A successful Summer Reading Challenge resulted in an increased number of active users, with visitors beginning to show a return to pre-pandemic numbers.

A number of other new initiatives have also proved successful, including mindfulness, mental health, and well-being cafes at March, Wisbech and Central Library. It is hoped that this offer will be extended to other libraries as part of the service's Warm Welcome Offer during the coming months to help residents cope with the cost-of-living crisis.

To read a copy of the report visit here. You can also watch a recording of the meeting back on the council’s Youtube account.