Case Study: Fresh Horizons, Huddersfield.

This was received in December 2013 from the Chief Executive of Fresh Horizons, a not for profit social enterprise based in Huddersfield.  The website is here. [I have introduced the bold headings and the bullet points myself – Ed.]

  • Value for money Our library costs Kirklees Council £83,442 per year through a contract and Service Level Agreement which sets out the roles and responsibilities of each party.  We had 102,463 visitors to the library part of our building in 2011/12.  This works out at £0.81 per visit, the most cost-effective in Kirklees. Average for other libraries is £1.78 per visit. Even this underestimates the VfM because, of the contract income, over a third goes back in rent and service charge – as we rent space off the Council to deliver the service.
  • Partnership with the Council We are in real partnership with the Council service. We use the same Library Management System, the stock is supplied by the library service and we train alongside council employed staff and our library manager attends Council library service managers meetings. We are supported by a Council Development Librarian who attends a few hours a week. We have a quarterly Service Level Agreement meeting with the Area Manager.
  • Longer opening hours We are able to open 72 hours a week as the team delivering the customer service do it as part of a wide range of other activity – some funded – such as Front of House duties, taking room bookings, opening remote buildings that we also manage, booking our support service for victims of burglary service etc. – some unfunded as part of our wider community offer, such as providing a credit union service and operating our small community cinema.  We have the highest levels of use of public access computers in the borough.
  • Paid staff We have three customer service staff and a manager supported by four Building Support Officers, who staff the 72 hours a week  on a shift system.  These are all paid. 85% of our staff work in the same post code as where they live. This supports our ethos of local people delivering services to each other to keep wages circulating in deprived communities.
  • Volunteers supplement the service Volunteers are used to supplement the service but are supernumerary. We see this a route for people back into employment rather than as a subsidy for the delivery. 2 of our current paid staff were volunteers with us before gaining employment. We have small numbers of volunteers on a regular basis – this could be work placement, school children gaining work experience, under graduates and graduates as well as traditional volunteers. We use larger numbers of volunteers around the events we run and in helping in running the cinema.
  • Deprived area Our area is one of the most deprived in Kirklees, and was the most deprived for many years. The library opened in 2007 and the area had been served by a mobile library up to that point and has no real culture of reading. We try to be innovative in trying to build that culture through a number of ways.
  • Cinema We used the Library Development Initiative to introduce cinema for library members. Operating on a similar basis to the Summer Reading Challenge in rewarding regular reading, children attending the cinema must be library members and take out books each time they come to watch a film. They are asked to write a short book review for the next visit and a winner is chosen each month who receives book tokens. We use community events, such as our annual carnival and other events to promote library and membership.
  • Rise in lending We recorded a 13% rise in lending last year against a background of falling lending across the borough of 10% last year.
  • Secret Shopper We recently got the results of ‘secret shopper’ quality check and received a grade of 94 out of 95.
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