Mental Health Awareness Week begins on the 10th May and runs until the 16th May. The theme this year, chosen by The Mental Health Foundation, is nature. Just as reading has the power to bring consolation in times of stress, nurture empathy and a sense of wonder, so too can nature. Why not get inspired for the week with Cannock Chase Libraries’ Summer Storytrails!
Cannock Library’s Storytrails
Libraries can be a part of bringing reading and nature together, encouraging our sense of connectedness.
In the summer of 2020, Cannock Library in Staffordshire developed a series of Storytrails that appeared in parks and green spaces across Cannock Chase to ensure that families, who did not have access to the internet, could still take part in the Summer Reading Challenge. Kerry Hutchings, Stock, Services and Activities Officer for Libraries in Cannock Chase, tell us more.
Stories and ‘silly challenges’
Four separate stories were created and were placed in the 12 parks across the district, each week during August. To accompany the stories, we hosted videos of silly challenges across library and partner websites, and families were signposted to these on their walks via links on the storyboards.
Working in partnership
We worked with multiple partners including Cannock Chase District Council, Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles, The Friends of Hednesford Park, local members, councillors, and various town councils. In Cannock Chase we had a pre-existing partnership – this really helped during Covid as we were able to pull the project together quickly and easily without too many challenges. The project was unfunded and relied solely on the goodwill of partners. Libraries created the storyboards, with a staff member writing and illustrating the stories meaning there were no copyright infringement issues. Partners then supported putting up the stories across the parks and green spaces and continued maintenance of the trail.
The challenges faced were mainly around print times and quarantining items as they crossed between partners. Some parks were also better equipped than others – with the main parks in the area already having dedicated boards dotted around the park for story trails. Others didn’t have these facilities and we had to improvise by laminating the printouts and securing them to trees. We estimate 2000 families took part in the trail and the online engagement – this data was recorded by looking at our social media use and also data from the parks service.
- If other services were to host story trails I would recommend they speak to the landowners where the story trails would take place and ensure they were happy for you to proceed – this is usually your local council.
- Ensure that you are working with partners who are on board with the idea.
- Where possible, try to create copyright-free stories so that you can freely promote them across social media.
- In parks and green spaces that aren’t as well equipped with signage or CCTV, make sure you have someone who can visit the site regularly and maintain the trail so that families aren’t disappointed if the stories have been removed.
Watch a Silly Staffordshire partner video made to promote last year’s Summer Reading Challenge and Storytrails Silly Staffs.