A perfect potted (and prickly!) history of Sutton Park

On Tuesday 28 November we hosted Sutton Park Ranger Matthew Barker as he gave a wonderfully informative and beautifully illustrated talk about the history of Sutton Coldfield park. Over 70 people attended! The library staff added to the occasion by preparing displays of archive and local history material about the park, held in the library. Matthew’s talk was rounded off with a lively Q&A session.

Feedback included:

“What a superb and uplifting experience! Thank you so much”

“It was a really interesting talk and we look forward to similar talks on any aspect of local history.”

“Just want to say how immensely grateful I am for all you’ve done in the past year to keep this library open! Thank you!”

FOLIO Sutton Coldfield is now working on putting on more local history talks for 2018.

Your chance to make a difference!

Would you like to play a crucial role in shaping our play-café?

We’re looking for a group of potential users of our play-café to join a steering panel that will help provide feedback on various aspects as we finalise details of our plan. We want the community to be at the heart of the design, development and delivery of this project; your suggestions and feedback will be vital as we finesse the final details of the play-cafe. Joining the steering group won’t be a big commitment; we anticipate it meeting a small number of times during the first few months of 2018, and providing brief feedback via email during the implementation stage of the play-cafe. This is your chance to make a difference!

If you’d like to be involved please email Zoe on chair@foliosuttoncoldfield.org.uk

Armadillos and Eyebrows! A great family event with Steve Smallman

We were delighted to host a family workshop by award-winning author and illustrator Steve Smallman during half term.

Steve Smallman. Photo: Louise Jackson / Under A Pewter Sky
Photo: Louise Jackson / Under A Pewter Sky

Steve read us several of his stories, treating us to sneak peeks of two which are not yet published. His infectious rhythm and rhyme and very funny story lines soon had us all giggling!

Photo: Louise Jackson / Under A Pewter Sky

Steve then gave us a masterclass in illustration, first drawing a scene packed with animals requested by members of the audience. It was at this point we learned some very surprising facts about armadillos!

Photo: Louise Jackson / Under A Pewter Sky

Next up we all got a chance to draw, learning how with just tiny changes to eyebrows we could draw all different sorts of expression.

Photo: Louise Jackson / Under A Pewter Sky

55 people attended this event, including some who had never visited the library before. Here’s a flavour of the feedback they gave on the event:

“Amusing and enthusing. Maybe an author/illustrator of the future was inspired today!”
“I think this event was fantastic and we should definitely do more events that are quite similar to this because it is a very fun time to have some fun!”
“First time we’ve been to the library, would come again with my daughter.”
“I HEART it. THumbs up emoji.”
“Excellent. 10/10. More days like to-day. Fab.”
“Fantastic and fun! Really interactive for the kids, lots of laughs and giggles. We would love more events like this please.”
“I want more like this event! 10/10”
“I loved it so much.”

Louise Jackson / Under A Pewter Sky

This sort of event, bringing both regular and new library users in, planned in conjunction with library staff, is exactly the sort of thing we want to focus FOLIO’s energies on in the future. We want to facilitate events which Sutton residents would like to attend and take part in, boosting the library along the way.

Photo: Louise Jackson / Under A Pewter Sky

Attendees at Steve’s events told us they’d like to see computer skills courses, art, music and drama workshops, and a comics club in the library. We’ve added all these suggestions to our planning – and if you’ve a suggestion to make, just get in touch, either by leaving a comment on this post or emailing chair@foliosuttoncoldfield.org.uk

An enormous thank you to Steve for delivering such an enjoyable workshop. Thank you too to Louise Jackson of Under A Pewter Sky for donating her time and photography skills for the day.

Great news – Birmingham City Council formally approves our LiF bid

We’re delighted to report that at this week’s Birmingham City Council Local Leadership Cabinet meeting our Local Innovations Fund (LIF) application for funding to help establish an intergenerational play-café inside Sutton Coldfield library was approved. You can watch an archived webcast of this decision here: https://birmingham.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/313060 (select Section 3 on the right-hand side)

The LIF funding is a crucial and significant boost towards the establishment of the play-café and we thank everyone who has supported us during the LIF application process, not least our Trinity Ward Councillors and the Birmingham City Council officers who gave us lots of advice on the procedure. This funding covers about two-thirds of the start-up costs of our proposed play-café, to be operated by a Community Interest Company which will generate rental income to help keep the library open and funds to support FOLIO’s charitable community work within the library. A strategy for raising the remaining costs is in place and well under way.

Trinity Ward Councillors back our play-cafe proposals

At the Trinity Ward meeting on Monday 2nd October, city councillors Margaret Waddington, Ewan Mackey and David Pears unanimously approved a funding bid from FOLIO Sutton Coldfield for their plans to establish an intergenerational play-café inside Sutton Coldfield library.

(L-R) Margaret Waddington, Ewan Mackey, Zoe Toft, Jenny Wilkinson, David Pears

As part of the overall package to secure the long-term survival of Sutton Coldfield Library Birmingham City Council announced in June their desire to commercially let out a space inside Sutton library, to generate rental income. FOLIO took this opportunity to develop an ambitious plan, drawing on feedback received during their campaign as The Library Lobby, to develop a proposal drawn up in conjunction with library staff to install a play-café in the space being let by the city council.

FOLIO submitted a Local Innovations Fund bid to their Trinity Councillors during the summer and after a rigorous assessment process this was formally adopted at Monday night’s ward meeting. Whilst the bid now has to go for Cabinet approval at the City Council, the fact that FOLIO’s bid has the unanimous and enthusiastic backing of the Trinity Councillors gives us every reason to be optimistic about it also being backed by the City Council.

Our Local Innovations Fund bid covers a large portion of the start-up costs to be incurred in installing the play-café; our play-café will be an independent coffee shop, with table service, including a fixed soft-play structure designed specifically for pre-schoolers. Our play-café will:

  • Create a valuable family-friendly place in Sutton Coldfield centre
  • Bring increased footfall to the library
  • Be an innovative space for community groups and events
  • Generate local jobs
  • Support local suppliers
  • Generate ongoing funds for FOLIO Sutton Coldfield
  • The play-café will be professionally run and managed by the team behind Lichfield’s very successful Little Green Frog café.

    FOLIO Sutton Coldfield chair, Zoe Toft said:

    We’re hugely grateful to Trinity Ward Councillors for giving their backing to our innovative and exciting project for creating a new, vibrant community space for all of Sutton Coldfield’s residents. We’re very optimistic about the future of the library now, and are already planning a whole host of events and activities, drawing on input from Sutton residents about what they’d like to see take place in the library.

    Jenny Wilkinson, FOLIO Treasurer said:

    It is almost exactly a year since Birmingham City Council announced plans to close the library in the centre of Sutton Coldfield. As soon as I heard the news, my response was to set up a group on Facebook to protest against it, which went on to become The Library Lobby and has now evolved into FOLIO. I could never have dreamt at that time that we would be where we are today. It has taken enormous amounts of drive, cooperation and vision from a number of people to get to the amazing position we find ourselves in now, where, not only is the library still open, but we are looking at enhancing the range of activities and facilities it offers. I am delighted that we have got here and I would like to express my particular gratitude to Zoe, without whose creativity and determination we would never have succeeded.

    Noran Flynn, FOLIO Trustee and lead on fundraising said:
    Sutton Coldfield residents were very excited that FOLIO was looking at a variety of activities to encourage more people of all ages to use the library. The idea of a Play Cafe within the library in Sutton Coldfield was met with unanimous support from residents who visited our stall at Sutton Expo.

    Cllrs Ewan Mackey and David Pears of Trinity Ward said:

    Ever since plans to close our library were announced our aim has been to work with Sutton Coldfield Town Council & local communities to protect library services by delivering them in line with local need. We were delighted that Friends of Libraries In Our… Sutton Coldfield (Folio) came forward with such an innovative proposal. Not only I am convinced it will help improve the offer of our own Library but this is a model that could be used across Birmingham to help other Libraries. As Councillors, we acknowledge the importance of the library to the town and are excited that Folio’s intergenerational play-café will improve the service further and make it even more accessible to its users.”

    Ben Birchall, one of the directors of Little Green Frog said:

    LGF Play Cafes are delighted to have been invited to work with FOLIO Sutton Coldfield in delivering a Play Café in Sutton Coldfield Library. We are excited about creating an engaging and stimulating environment where families with young children can relax and spend time together and with family and friends whilst enjoying great food and drink in a relaxed environment.
    We can’t wait to work with the team at the library to ensure that the Play Café not only complements but adds additional value to the excellent services that they offer. We believe in providing an environment where children can express themselves physically and creatively and we love to see parents and carers relaxing and reading books with their children, something that is often seen in Caleb’s Quiet Corner in our Lichfield Café.

    See coverage of this news on the Birmingham Mail website: http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/unique-new-caf-set-open-13727915

    See coverage of this news in Families Online: https://www.familiesonline.co.uk/local/sutton-coldfield-north-birmingham/in-the-know/little-green-frog-caf%C3%A9-set-to-open-in-sutton-coldfield

    Original coverage in the Sutton Coldfield Observer

    Generous donation will have major impact on our work

    Hot on the heels of our great day at Sutton Expo, FOLIO Sutton Coldfield are very grateful to two members of the public who have very generously donated £1400 to facilitate our work as we become established.

    Of their substantial gift the donors said:

    We have been following developments regarding Sutton library very closely, first with The Library Lobby and now with FOLIO. We believe it is essential to keep a library at the heart of Sutton Coldfield, and so, in memory of our mothers who were life-long readers and supporters of libraries, we are making a joint donation to FOLIO Sutton Coldfield in the hope that it helps secure a long term future for the library. We have been impressed by the passion and creativity of all the volunteers involved and wish the group every success.

    Zoe Toft, Chair of FOLIO Sutton Coldfield commented:

    We are extremely grateful for this incredible donation. It is humbling to have our efforts recognised, and whilst – as the donors are aware – the long term future of the library is not yet secure (although we have every reason to be optimistic), this donation will help us enormously as we become established, enabling purchase of insurance, publicity materials and facilitating our first events as a new community group.

    Great to see you at the Sutton Expo

    We had a lovely, if slightly damp day on Saturday at the Sutton Coldfield BID Expo. It was great to meet so many of you, to share our plans for the play-café and to get your input on ideas for events and activities you’d like FOLIO to host in the future.

    Photo: Lou Jackson

    We’ll be considering all the ideas you suggested to us at our next Trustees’ meeting later this month. If you didn’t get to join us on Saturday and would like to chat to us about our plans and suggest ideas for us to take on board, please do join us at our next open event on Monday 9 October from 8.30pm at the Quinto Lounge, Birmingham Road, Sutton Coldfield.