Festive fun and fundraising at Christmas Fayre hosted by volunteers at New Cross People’s Library

pic: Claire Shaw

Lewisham volunteers hosted a Christmas Fayre at New Cross People’s Library to offer locals festive entertainment and raise funds to sustain the running of the community-led library service.

The event on Sunday was opened by Brockley ward Councillor Jimi Adefiranye, who came along to show his support.

Library volunteers and local craftswomen offered an array of Christmas treats and activities for visitors, including a tombola, raffle, donated clothing, a book stall, home-baked cakes and mulled wine.

There was also the chance to make Christmas cards, and reindeer food parcel tree decorations from oats and glitter.

After the library was closed down by Lewisham Council in May due to a lack of available funding, it has since been brought back to life by a group of committed volunteers who see the library as an intrinsic part of the local community.

Jill Hart, 59, chair of New Cross People’s Library, said: “The Christmas Fayre is a chance for everyone to join in together. People have been so kind with contributions, they are fantastic. It is a bit overwhelming.

“We are not just a library, we are here for the community, and that was the idea of the name. We are a library by the people, and for the people. We are filling a gap that the council left behind in this part of New Cross. We are not going to be forgotten.”

It provided a chance for the volunteers to promote the library as an important service for local people in the heart of New Cross.

Rebecca Charikar, 41, medical secretary, and fundraiser for the library said: “I hope we can get more people in, so we can get more people using the library service. We are doing well in fundraising, and have a lot of support from the NHS, a local trust, and the local assembly, but we are not going to run out of a need to fundraise.”

Dafna Samuel, 22, from Lewisham and book-keeper for the library said: “The Christmas Fayre is very important to get people coming to the library. People are glad it is open, and with events like this, we can raise money to keep it open, because it is really popular.”

Funds raised will go towards utility bills and purchasing computers for the library, as well as taking 60 school children, teaching assistants and library volunteers to the Jack and the Beanstalk pantomime in Catford on December 15.

It is one of a number of fundraising events organised by the library. Volunteers regularly run tombolas in schools, and in November this year, raised over £2300 at an auction.

Despite the opening of a new state-of-the-art library in Deptford early next year, volunteers from New Cross People’s Library feel their library fills a niche in New Cross which cannot be replaced by another, more technologically advanced service further away.

Jill Hart said: “People don’t travel to libraries. People that really need a library, go to their local library, no matter how fancy another library is.

“I feel people who come to this library would feel intimidated going to the Deptford Lounge.”

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