LIBRARIES across North Yorkshire will this month highlight the support they give people to combat loneliness by offering places to meet and socialise

Branches will offer activities as part of Mental Health Awareness Week from May 9 to 15.

The week, coordinated by the Mental Health Foundation, focuses this year on how loneliness is affecting more people in the UK and its huge impact on physical and mental health during the pandemic.

Louise Wallace, North Yorkshire’s Director of Public Health, said: “Our connections to each other and our communities are really important for our mental health and wellbeing. Libraries can play a key role in finding practical ways to tackle loneliness.

“The week is also an invaluable opportunity for people to talk about all aspects of mental health, with a focus on providing help and advice.”

Chrys Mellor, General Manager of North Yorkshire Libraries, added: “The last two years have made us all more aware than ever of the importance of looking after our mental health. Libraries play a vital role in providing access to information, books and activities to support ourselves and our families.”

Events in libraries during Mental Health Awareness Week include Coffee, Cake and Chat drop-ins at which people can enjoy a cuppa and cake and meet new and old friends. There is no need to book.

Drop-ins are happening in libraries including: Boroughbridge, Friday May 13, 10.30am; Filey, Monday May 9, 2pm; Harrogate, Tuesday May 10, 10.30am; Knaresborough, Wednesday May 11, 10am to noon; Malton, Wednesday May 11, 2pm to 4pm; Northallerton, Monday, May 9 10am to 11.30am; Pickering, Thursday May 12, 11am to noon; Ripon, Friday, May 13 10.30am to 11.30am; Scarborough, Wednesday May 11, 10am to noon and Whitby, Thursday May 12, 10am to noon.

Musicians from Live Music Now will visit Knaresborough and Selby libraries on Thursday May 12, to help people explore a Playlist for Life and see how music can lift them up and connect them to others.

People can listen to and share music with others over tea and cake. Library staff will explain how to set up a digital playlist to enjoy after the session. The Selby event is 10am till noon and Knaresborough's event is from 2.30pm to 4pm. Contact the libraries to book.

Harrogate library stages a Deaf Café on Thursday May 12, at 2pm. People who are deaf, hard of hearing or have dual sensory impairment will be especially welcome, but anyone can attend to meet others and socialise.

In addition, regular library sessions that provide opportunities to meet people and to enjoy an activity will continue during Mental Health Awareness Week.

North Yorkshire County Council says weekly story times take place in most libraries to bring together families with under-fives for a free, fun time. From jigsaws to Scrabble, knit and natter to poetry and book groups, most libraries in North Yorkshire have regular activities.

Furthermore, its health and adult service runs a free directory, Mates Time, for men reluctant to talk about or address their mental health. It offers information and links to community services, activities and organisations that can support men.