Chelmsford’s new children’s library and state-of-the-art hub for family services was officially opened today after a £316,000 revamp.
The makeover project has put the library at the heart of family support services in the city, where library employees, health and social care workers, along with staff and volunteers from other support agencies have come together to create a one-stop shop for free family services.
The refurbishment, which has been taking place over the past few months, has been made possible thanks to a £145,586 grant from Arts Council England, plus a further £171,000 from Chelmsford City Council’s Chelmsford Infrastructure Levy Fund.
Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for libraries, Cllr Susan Barker, said: “We were delighted to receive such a significant amount of funding from Chelmsford City Council and Arts Council England to make this ambitious work possible.
“We wanted to create a state-of-the-art space for children and their families to learn, grow and be inspired and that’s exactly what we’ve been able to achieve.
“Almost half a million people visited Chelmsford Library in the past year, which makes it the perfect venue to provide these other vital services under one roof.
“By working with residents and service providers we’ve been able to create a real hub for the community, a place where people can come for advice, friendship and support, as well as all the other exciting activities libraries have to offer.”
At the official opening, the ribbon was cut by Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, and Nick Eveleigh, Chief Executive of Chelmsford City Council.
The grand opening ceremony was also attended by Cllr John Aldridge, Chairman of Essex County Council, Cllr Susan Barker, Richard Comerford, Managing Director of Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service and Virgin Care Services Ltd, Lord Michael Farmer, co-author of the Strengthening Families Manifesto, and Vicky Ford, Chelmsford MP.
The integrated 0-19 Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service and library provide a variety of activities and support for families, including the award-winning Rhyme Time sessions, friendship and toddler groups, play and learn sessions, sensory play, breastfeeding support drop-ins, health advice, and other children’s literacy and learning services.