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Latest press release from Wicklow County Council, issued on Friday, September 25th 2020…

Moving to a new country and settling into a new place can be difficult and this was the recent experience of 16 Syrian families who arrived in Wicklow.

The visiting families were accompanied by Respond Intercultural Worker, Djamal, who was happy to be interpret for them, although it was apparent that they had already achieved a good grasp of English despite being here for only a relatively short time. Also accompanying them was Respond Resettlement Worker, Naomi Fitzpatrick.

Two of the families were presented with a welcome pack containing information on all the library locations and their opening times, craft packs and art materials. The packs also contained a ready to use library card for each person.

Speaking with the children, Kathy Scott, Librarian from Arklow Library, was delighted to learn that the children were pleased to be back to school, saying: “Now they can enjoy using the library and be part of the library community, we look forward to welcoming all the families to the library in the near future”.

Library staff showed the families around the library and the children got to make use of their first library cards using the self-service machines to borrow their first books.

Ruwaida was one of the adults and she said afterwards : “We went to the library for the first time and it was a very enjoyable visit. The children took books with them from the library and they were happy to visit. We thank them for their good treatment and kindness. My children and I thank them all for their hospitality”.

Bashir, who is the father of two of the young children, went on to say that the children had really enjoyed the experience and he welcomed the interest shown to the children by library staff.

Speaking at the event, Margaret Birchall of Wicklow County Council Library Service, said: “For newcomers to Ireland, the library is not just somewhere to read – in fact, it is probably the one place that they will find almost everything they need. It can be a starting point to find out about services, a place to learn English as a foreign language and once we revert to our full services, a welcoming space to attend cultural events, children’s story times and much more.

“Libraries are community hubs where we can all build friendships and forge connections.”