Sheila, the Baroness Hollins is to formally open 4 new and unique book clubs in Croydon libraries, which are designed specifically to help people with learning disabilities deal with everyday situations. The life peer and former President of both the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the British Medical Association is a keen advocate of the initiative that promotes the idea that pictures can tell stories as powerfully as words.

The clubs will be run in partnership with Croydon’s library service by the not-for-profit organisation Beyond Words, which publishes the high-quality series of ‘Books Beyond Words’ picture books for adults with learning disabilities.

The Baroness said: “These clubs will really help club members who struggle with traditional books to be part of the mainstream life of their local community. They will prepare them for how to deal with different types of day-to-day situations by helping them feel more in control of their own lives. Words are powerful, but for people who can’t read they can also be a barrier stopping them accessing education, healthcare and other basic services. These picture books let readers imagine themselves involved in everyday life so that when faced with similar circumstances to those in the stories they are better able to cope.”

Councillor Timothy Godfrey, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: “This is one more great example of the importance to the community of our local library network. It’s yet another reason why we as a council are firmly committed to supporting libraries and helping them diversify with new projects.”

The Beyond Words book clubs, funded by Relief in Need, will be run by 24 staff and volunteers in Croydon’s Central Library, as well as in branches in Thornton Heath, Purley and New Addington. All of those involved will have been trained by the Beyond Words training team, ready to start the book clubs in September.

A launch of the book clubs will take place in Croydon at the Braithwaite Halls on 26 September 2016 from 1.00pm - 4.00pm.