Using the adage of ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ Sefton Council is taking a unique approach to addressing the problem of social isolation and poor mental health.

Thanks to a grant of almost £100,000 from Arts Council England – a brand new project will aim to support adults living in Bootle through the creation of a ‘human library’ where people can ‘gift’ their talents or experience to someone in need.

The concept is based around a place where real people are on loan instead of books. They provide gifts that might range from preparing and hosting a community meal or one to one sessions with someone living with a mental health condition.

A series of creative programmes will aim to uncover local talents which, in turn, will build a sustainable bank of volunteers who can pass their ‘gift’ or experiences on.

There will also be a skills share workshop starting later in the year and podcasts capturing the views and thoughts of individuals involved for future digital listening.

Lesley Davies, Principal Library Development Manager, explains:

“We’re really excited to be part of this unique project, which we believe could make a huge difference to the lives of many people living in Bootle and the surrounding area.

“Through this creative and unusual project, there will be thousands of human interactions made that might not otherwise have happened and a deeper sense of support and friendship nurtured locally.

“The library service has always been innovative and willing to try new ways of working – playing an active role in the community and doing what they can to support others, and this is a great example of that which will be fascinating to watch.”

The Mayor of Sefton, Cllr Dave Robinson will officially launch the project from 2pm on 14 July at Bootle Library.

He added: “Having been involved in the initial plans to bring this idea to life, I have seen how it works in other countries and I believe it could be life-changing.

“I’m proud to be involved to lend my support which is helping to put the spotlight on mental health issues in Sefton.”