Vera author Ann Cleeves opens new North Shields Library to support deprived community

The author of the much loved book crime series, Vera and Shetland, Ann Cleeves, has officially opened a new library in one of the North East's most deprived areas.

The author cut the ribbon to unveil new books at The Cedarwood Trust library in the Meadow Well Estate in North Shields, which will be available to adults and children in the area for free.

She told ITV News Tyne Tees that books are an important escape for adults and children alike.

She said: "Books for me have always been an escape, so I think every family has had dark times, you know, times where there has been illness or bereavements and there are times when you just want to be somewhere else and a book does that better than anything else at all.

"So it can help you learn and it can help you see inside the head of somebody else, but it can also be just a bit of fun."

Ann Cleeves opens new Cedarwood Trust library Credit: ITV News

The library has been set up by The Cedarwood Trust, a charity that tries to tackle poverty and inequality in the North East. The books for the community library are being provided by North Tyneside Libraries, and will be swapped every few weeks to give local residents access to a wide range of titles.

The new initiative comes off the back of recent research by the National Literacy Trust, which found one in 15 children in the region do not own a book of their own.

Half a million children are in the same position across the UK and numbers rise dramatically to one in 10, for children on free school meals, according to the research.

Chief executive of the Cedarwood Trust, Wayne Dobson, said: "It is crucially important. We’ve got an early years provision at the Cedarwood Trust and story time is always a big thing with the children. Sitting down with a book and a child and getting them to see the shapes of words, but also being able to associate that word with the object in the picture as well, is absolutely a great way to start that child off in reading.

"For us, what we want to do is we want people to, and children especially, to create that aspiration and those imaginary adventures that a book can give you, so that’s our aim here."

Children read book with mother Credit: ITV News

One mother of two who attended the official opening of the library said: "You’re lucky if you get a book for a couple of quid, so having free ones just down the road is perfect, for the little ones especially."

Project leader, Cherri Bray, said: "This new library will be run by the community, for the community.

"We want to get children on the estate into reading: sometimes with parents in the area books are not the first port of call for how they entertain their children, as we enter the digital age so much is now done on screens.

"We want to be able to give people who perhaps wouldn’t normally be able to afford books access to literature, right on their doorstep. We hope this will encourage a love of reading and also help with literacy in the area, which in turn can have a real positive impact on other parts of people’s lives."

The Cedarwood Trust tackles poverty and inequality in North Shields Credit: ITV News

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