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“It makes me feel not alone” Libraries offer new ‘Open Space’ group to improve wellbeing in their community

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“It makes me feel not alone” Libraries offer new ‘Open Space’ group to improve wellbeing in their community

Posted by on 11 September 2019

On Wednesday 11th September, Woodbridge Library will be starting a new Open Space group to focus on wellbeing in their community. 

Open Space is a weekly drop-in group that allows people to socialize, engage with their community and meet new people with events, activities and discussions chosen by the participants. Attendees are also free to come and go as they like while the group is in session. 

The new Woodbridge Library Open Space group has scheduled discussions to take place with its attendees to discuss what participants would like from their Open Space group and what activities they would enjoy, in order to tailor future sessions. If you would like to attend, visit Woodbridge Library on Wednesdays between 2pm-4pm. For a full list of locations and timetables for Open Space groups, visit the Suffolk Libraries website: 

Statistics show that approximately 100 people attend an Open Space group per week. They have also shown that: 

  • 94% of attendees reported Open Space felt it had definitely or somewhat helped them deal with their wellbeing.  
  • 94% would definitely or probably return to open space if they needed support in the future.  

The new Woodbridge group will run weekly on Wednesdays between 2pm – 4pm and will be the eighth library to host the weekly drop-in group. Other Open Space groups are held at Bury, Felixstowe, Haverhill, Ipswich, Newmarket, Stowmarket and Sudbury libraries. 

Sarah Lungley, Mental Health & Wellbeing Co-ordinator for Suffolk Libraries, said: 

“We are very excited for the start of a new Open Space group in Woodbridge. Open Space brings mental health support and expertise right into the heart of the community and is there for anyone to access with no judgement and no referral needed.” 

Open Space groups are run in partnership with Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, Julian Support, Richmond Fellowship and Suffolk Mind. Sarah describes this partnership as “enabling us to combine a huge amount of skills and experiences together to support people with their mental health and wellbeing.” Many of the pre-existing Open Space groups have communicated how the sessions have helped them, improved their wellbeing and given them a place to socialise and meet new people. 

In March 2019, one of the attendees at the Stowmarket Open Space stated: 

“At first I was wary [to attend] but I was encouraged by a co-worker. But Open Space is a nice place to come, meet people, learn and socialise.” 

Attendees at various Open Space groups across libraries have also said: 

  • “[Open Space] made me feel more independent and makes me feel not alone.” 
  • “Open Space has changed my faith in the efforts of those in the community who are willing and trying to help de-stigmatise the current mental health stigma.” 
  • “Open Space is my Friday and gives me structure and routine. Even weeks where I don't feel like taking part, just being able to come here is comforting.” 

Why not give it a go?! :)

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