SCA interested in running Cobbett Road Library

ruth marriott sca ceo 200pxWith council funding for Cobbett Road Library withdrawn from April, its future could be bleak. One ray of hope, however, is that Social Care in Action (SCA) has expressed interest in running it. We talk to SCA chief executive Ruth Marriott, left, who explains the current state of play, and what SCA running the library might look like in reality.


Can you confirm SCA is interested in running Cobbett Road Library?

SCA has put forward an Expression of Interest to run the library along with Unexpected Places (a Southampton drama not-for-profit group) and with the support of Friends of Cobbett Road Library.

We are very clear that we need to raise the required funds to run the library and unless we can achieve this, we will not be able to take on the lease. However, we are hopeful that we can raise the funds through a mixture of trust fund application, charging reasonable rates for use of space in the library by groups, and renting space out when the library is not in use for communal activities – potentially parties, etc.

At what stage is that at, and when are we likely to hear the outcome?

This is at the first stage. We have a second stage application with a business plan to be submitted by the end of February. We should hear sometime in March if it has been accepted.

Are you involved with other schemes to run other libraries?

No, but we do run a community asset in Lyndhurst. This was previously a community hospital and we now rent space out to the NHS, deliver day-care services, rent space to local businesses, run Cognitive Stimulation Therapy session for people with first onset Dementia to prevent them losing memory and help them retain independence, and have a gym in place for older people.


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For those that don't know, what does SCA do?

SCA is a successful group of social enterprises focused on health and wellbeing - care, our own transport fleet, run several dentist surgeries across Hampshire, a formerly closed community hospital transformed into a vibrant wellbeing centre called Fenwick2, deliver advocacy for a range of groups, and carry out Carers Assessments and Homesafe assessments. We also offer expert training, consultancy and community facilitation services.

We exist to support our members to live better lives through compassionate care, health and community services, strengthened by working together for the common good.

We provide services to over 90,000 people in Central Southern England, focused in areas of disadvantage and providing rewarding jobs for our staff and volunteers. We have a mix of publicly commissioned service and self-funded places direct to local people.

We involve our members in setting our priorities, evaluating our impact, and listen to their ideas on what we should do next. We take an enhanced quality and governance approach

cobbett rd library banner sun

How would running this library fit with SCA's other activities?

SCA see the Library as a vital community space which can be expanded for other purposes as well as the need to maintain a good library service. We see that it can link well with other services we offer as we support those with particular need in their own communities, whether by being able to enable people to continue to live in their own home with support, being able to offer a range of activities to prevent isolation and loneliness or providing advocacy for people to understand their entitlements and enabling individuals to achieve their goals.

We believe the library can be a hub for bringing together a range of community groups and support whether for groups with learning difficulties, mental health needs, older people or young people in the community.

If you take it over, what difference would current library users see, and what changes would there be?

The main library facilities would continue as they have.

We hope to be able to develop a community café over time, and increase community use of the library for all age groups. This would include drama activities with Unexpected Places. We want to work with local people to develop this space in ways that they will find meaningful. We can offer business support and skills. We have over 20 years of experience working with and for local people to develop services that meet their needs.

We believe this is an exciting opportunity to retain the use of the library and continue to enable people to increase their literacy skills and carry on enjoying their love of reading. Literacy is a key skill that enables us to achieve so much in our lives.

Presumably this would be from April 1st, when council funding ceases?

This is the date we are working to. We would hope that we could be in a position to open after April 1st.

Do you know if there are any other parties also wanting to run Cobbett Road Library?

Not that we are aware of. If there are, we would be willing to work in partnership with organisations with a similar profile to ourselves as this would strengthen a bid.

Thank you very much for talking to us, Ruth!

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