Updated: Jun 14, 2021
Over the last year we have been working with Leeds Dads and The Real Junk Food Project to support distributing food parcels. We have worked with Freedom4Girls on a donation drive to get clothes, toys and books to isolated families. We have worked with Fall Into Place Theatre and Playful Leeds to bring Mini Playboxes to Chapeltown... and this year as a nursery and as a community we have been going through our cupboards and swapping food, toys and books... It's been great to have this sense of solidarity and we don't want it to end as restrictions lift.
We have been considering raising money for a local Leeds Little Free Library, founded by the late Carry Franklin in 2017, for several years but recently we have not wanted to be limited to books. In March 2021 our trustees and staff explored ideas with our families and came up with a small budget for something very specific. When we described our ideas to local councillors, Jane Dowson, Mohammed Rafique and Lord Mayor Eileen Taylor, they were delighted to help by committing money from their “Members Improvements in the Community and the Environment" budget.
One of our parents, Ryan De Warne, researched, designed and built our library, taking inspiration from our commitment to sustainability and engaging with nature by reusing a mirror frame to create the door and incorporating a birdhouse in the roof.
It ended up being much bigger and heavier and more impressive than expected!
Next, we needed to add a design and Daisy Hance, a community member who graduated from our nursery 15 years ago, volunteered to help us with this.
Daisy took inspiration from our nursery logo, created by Nancy Clare Creative, and her favourite colour - yellow - features heavily! To create the shapes in the design we used stencils that have been used in our nursery (including by Daisy) since we moved to our building in 1992. To ensure the library lasts a long time we have taken advice from artist, Cassy Oliphant, on which materials to use and how finish it. In the end it needed as many as eleven coats of primer, paint and varnish (taking up to 24 hours each to dry) and trustees and staff members pitched in to get it finished!
We are so proud to have been able to create this "Swap and Share" library for the whole Chapeltown community. We have already received offers to help from local businesses, from Lotte Shaw's offering us boxes of delicious Yorkshire Parkin to the Little Bookshop in Chapel Allerton making donations from their stock, and are looking forward to sharing playful and creative activities from Leeds Libraries. If you want to share some ideas of how the "Swap and Share" can be used in our community please get in touch!