Expanding our health & wellbeing section was something the East Lancashire Hospital NHS Trust (ELHT) team had talked about back in December 2019, and we had planned to do this early in 2020. However, COVID 19 stopped us in our tracks, and we put this on hold whilst we tried to ‘keep calm and carry on’ running the service.

Whilst we couldn’t move forward with our plans we could support our Well Team and help to create one of a number of Oasis rooms which were set-up around the Trust. We supplied mindfulness colouring packs to wards and staff rooms, loaned our bean bags and comfy seating, moved our book swap collection into the room and even had Patrick putting up the fairy lights.....he is the tallest one in the team! The Oasis room was a great success and well used by staff in the Learning Centre, especially at lunchtimes given the restricted dining areas available.

In September 2020 the Learning Centre Oasis room had to be returned to a classroom as teaching restarted and we took back our furniture and books. We could immediately see that staff were missing a place to sit, eat lunch, and have a few minutes away from the office.
So after some discussion, we agreed that we were now at a point where we could consider re-visiting our plans for the expansion of the Health & Wellbeing area. Obviously, this was going to be slightly different than when we had first planned this pre-covid!
Tape measures came out, some dubious drawings scribbled on bits of paper, shelves counted and lots of discussions later we came up with a socially distanced seating area where we could encourage staff to come and sit, relax, eat their lunch, have a brew.

It was all hands on deck and over the last two weeks in October and the team worked tirelessly dismantling and rebuilding shelving, moving tables, sofas, PC’s and in the end as much as we tried not to it also meant having to move every single book! However, the hard work and aching muscles were worth it, and we have created a bright open space at the Blackburn site library.
Our new space includes:
• Comfortable seating in more relaxed arrangement
• Access to a kettle where you can bring your own supplies to make a hot drink
• Limited complimentary drinks – with thanks to donations from our Well Team and also ELHT&Me charity
• Health & Wellbeing and Fiction book collection
• Spotlight on Mindfulness ….colouring, book collection, ELHT mindfulness support
• Signposting to Wellbeing resources

Early feedback suggests this area is going to be popular. In the short time it’s been available it has been well used, and we have a regular stream of lunchtime visitors, some who have never been in the library before!

“The new Oasis space is of great value to me. It gives both myself and my colleague a different space to enjoy lunch and be out of the working environment”
“Just want to say thank you for your responsiveness and imaginative use of the library space to incorporate the Covid guidance. Thoroughly impressed!”
“The hot drink making facilities, free drinks and snacks are really appreciated. No longer a need to try and find somewhere to eat lunch”

We hope other departments will use this space to host displays and drop-in sessions. We are currently planning to host a ‘Cuddle with Jasper’ session over the Christmas season. Jasper is ELHT’s very popular therapy dog, and he and his owner David (Hospital Chaplain) are regular visitors to the library. Staff will be able to book a time slot and come and have a cuddle and a photo with Jasper by the Christmas tree and enjoy a brew and mince pie!

Clare Morton
Library Operational Services Manager
East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust