Health & Wellbeing Award 2023: Shortlist

Lisa Mustoe - Library Service Manager, London Borough of Merton

Lisa is nominated for leading an innovative new programme of health and wellbeing services in Merton.

With Council funding Lisa has developed new Health & Wellbeing Zones across all of Merton's libraries. New services have been developed to improve the health and wellbeing of Merton residents. This includes massage chairs for relaxation, health monitors and digital bounce pads that enable residents to have access to a raft of wellbeing services that would only normally be able to be accessed in GP surgeries or hospitals.

The impact of these new services has been considerable and has led to increases in visitor and usage figures. New evaluation systems have been established to better capture the impact that these new services are having on residents and 70% of library service users have said that the new services have improved their health and wellbeing.


Jamie Hutchinson - Senior Librarian, Leeds Libraries

In November 2022, Jamie launched SoundMind, a new festival at Leeds Central Library promoting positive health and wellbeing through music. According to national charity Mind, one in four of us experience a mental health problem each year, and men can find it particularly difficult to seek support.

Taking place during Men’s Mental Health Month, SoundMind included a range of free, pay as you feel or accessibly priced activities, workshops and performances highlighting the benefits of music and movement for wellbeing. This project offers a template that would be replicable within other library services.

During the ongoing cost of living crisis, with many people feeling increasingly anxious, the festival reminded people that libraries are great places to get help and support, not only with mental health, but financial pressures and a range of other issues.


Werrington Community Library and Wellbeing Centre (Wendy Sandbrook, Betty Johnson), Staffordshire Libraries and Arts Service

Wendy and Betty are nominated for their success in developing a library offer focused on meeting the health and wellbeing needs in the local area

In 2016, Werrington Community Volunteers Group (WCVG) entered into a contract with Staffordshire County Council (SCC) Library Service to operate Werrington Library, to support the new community-managed delivery model.

As well as delivering the statutory service, WCVG took the library on to focus on meeting the health and wellbeing needs in the local area.  This was prioritised due to their knowledge of local demographics which has above twice the national average of elderly and very elderly residents.

The library became the Werrington Community Library and Wellbeing Centre and, in consultation with the Patient Participation Group and doctor’s surgery, a diverse programme of support was introduced delivered by statutory, charitable and independent organisations. 

The volunteers run a Community Shop within the library. This raises income so accommodation can be offered to wellbeing providers at no or little cost, attracting services that would otherwise have been unavailable due to budget restrictions. The shop raises on average £400 per month.


Jane Cox and Laura Parker on behalf of all our Wellbeing Champions staff group, Suffolk Libraries

Jane and Laura are nominated on behalf of the Wellbeing Champions staff group for their coordination and energising work.

The Wellbeing Champions role is to listen confidentially and non-judgementally to any colleagues who are feeling worried, stressed or overwhelmed. They also signpost colleagues to appropriate professional support or self-help strategies, including the organisation’s employee assistance programme and disseminate information about various aspects of wellbeing among staff. They also organise events that encourage healthy living or deal with certain aspects of wellbeing such as stress.

Jane and Laura work to guide and enthuse the Wellbeing Champions, holding regular meetings to inspire them to engage meaningfully with staff. They also suggest ideas for events and activities they might like to organise and have developed a programme of internal activities during the year to ensure wellbeing is embedded across the organisation.


John Carter, Rebecca Palmer & Olly Hellis, Somerset Libraries

John, Rebecca and Olly are nominated for being jointly responsible for delivering a scheme which enabled the loaning of blood pressure monitoring kits from any library in Somerset.

Hundreds of vulnerable people have been supported by loaning the blood pressure monitors - many of whom would not have otherwise visited the libraries, where they also benefitted from the many health and wellbeing services on offer. Since September 2022, around 200 interactive projector sessions have benefitted adults with learning difficulties and people living with dementia.

All of the above innovative schemes have strengthened partnerships with various teams in Somerset County Council and have led to libraries being regarded as welcoming, trusted places to support vulnerable people. Many support organisations now act as positive advocates for Somerset Libraries and refer people to the library spaces.


Jackie Burgess, Community & Wellbeing Lead, Guille-Allès Library

Jackie is nominated for her outstanding work in developing the library service and supporting the wellbeing of older adults, particularly through the creation of a special programme in care homes called 'Tea & Tales'.

At 'Tea & Tales', attendees listen to short stories read by library staff, then afterwards enjoy a cup of tea and a chat about what they heard. The sessions are focused around specific themes – ‘schooldays’, ‘family history’, etc – and concentrate on stories with a local connection. Staff bring the stories to life by passing around props and even dressing up.

Jackie has led the way entirely by herself, building trust and forging strong relationships with care home staff and residents. Her work has brought the library service to people who would not otherwise be able to engage with it.

Feedback from care home managers suggests that 'Tea & Tales' is extremely popular with residents, including some who never participate in anything else and in some cases rarely speak. Yet because the stories trigger memories, they engage with this. There are now monthly sessions in seven different care homes, reaching over 100 older adults in total.