Five-years of successfully delivering cultural services in Notts
This year marks five years since Nottinghamshire County Council launched Inspire: Culture, Learning and Libraries to deliver cultural services to Nottinghamshire’s and residents.
Since its inception Inspire has been responsible for delivering a range of cultural, art, library and learning services. Set up in April 2016, Inspire is an independent organisation with charitable aims and status. As well as overseeing the day to day management of 60 libraries, Inspire provide a range of programming including Nottinghamshire Archives, Inspire Youth Arts and Nottinghamshire Music Hub.
Inspire has been widely recognised for its high-quality work and has been the recipient of numerous awards including Best Adult and Community Learning Provider at the 2020 TES Awards and Best Family Welcome Award from Family Arts Campaign in 2018. Inspire is also accredited by several national bodies such as Customer Service Excellence (CSE), ILM accreditation as approved leaning centre for leadership and management and RSL accreditation for music qualifications.
Councillor John Cottee, Chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Communities Committee said:
“Five years is a fantastic milestone! The library and cultural services delivered by Inspire have been exemplary and are a credit to the dedicated team who run the wide range of services.
“At a time when many local authorities were closing libraries, we looked to provide them in a different way with a focus on how we could keep them going. We recognised just how important these services are. Libraries are often at the heart of local communities.
“Not only have we kept our local libraries open over the past five years, we have managed to grow the offer and increase what’s available to people. We have made significant investments into our libraries and cultural services, making them some of the best in the country.”
During the coronavirus pandemic, Inspire continued to provide vital services to Nottinghamshire’s communities, residents and schools. Essential services continued in person for those who required them, such as access to computers for job seekers. Other services quickly adapted to socially distanced alternatives, including the popular click and collect service, described by one user as ‘a life line’, and home delivery to provide book loans to those shielding or unable to leave their home.
Inspire led a highly successful online programme in response to lockdowns and restrictions due to coronavirus. The full adult and family learning programme moved all its curriculum online by June 2020, with 6450 learners enrolled. Learning and career support is a key part of Inspire’s work and is especially vital following the impact of Covid-19 on many people’s work lives. Inspire also developed a range online events including live events for families and children, author readings, virtual book clubs, heritage events and even the popular Inspire Christmas Concert.
Following the pandemic, Inspire will support economic and community recovery in Nottinghamshire. Alongside Nottinghamshire County Council, Inspire will support business and job seekers with a range of new initiatives as well as the continuation of the existing support available. It is participating in the governments kick start employment support scheme to provide 6 months of paid work experience for 18-25-year olds. Also launching in 2021, a membership volunteering and engagement programme aims to enable greater use of local skills and support to help communities to re connect and recover.
Peter Gaw, Chief Executive Inspire added;
“I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved at Inspire over the last 5 years, providing essential access to reading, learning and culture even during a global crisis when we switched many of our activities to online delivery. Looking forward, I am excited about the role Inspire can play in supporting Nottinghamshire communities and the economy – from providing spaces, new skills, business information and IT access, resources and learning opportunities to support health and wellbeing. Also, by supporting the community and helping those who experience loneliness and isolation. We will continue to grow our support for young people with skills, learning and cultural opportunities, and not forgetting our provision for children and families.”