Language Diversity in the City
This project celebrated language diversity in Manchester - one of the most linguistically diverse cities in Europe. The aims were to bring people together to learn about the wealth of languages and cultures that make up the city, to share their own experiences and to promote understanding and empathy across communities. The project was designed to reach new communities, people who hadn’t used the library before, and post Covid -19 lockdowns, to re-engage local communities and to bring people back into the library.
The Higher Education partners at the start of the project were Multilingual Manchester, a research unit within the University of Manchester. Unfortunately, Covid-19 impacts on the university meant the unit was no longer able to take part in the project. The library team were supported by two academics from this field who volunteered their own time to deliver training sessions for library staff and curate content for the virtual tour.
Working across 5 sites, the library service held 26 sessions exploring the public visibility of Manchester’s languages and residents' experience of multilingualism, which culminated in celebrations at four Feast of Hope events. The project team produced a virtual tour, hosted on the Manchester City of Literature website, exploring how Manchester celebrates its language diversity.
This project had a positive impact on wellbeing after isolation of lockdown, enabling participants to connect with other people. This was particularly true for sanctuary seekers groups. It also enabled some groups to engage with the library for the first time and many of them said they would like to continue this relationship.
Staff gained greater awareness of how important language is to people’s individual cultural identity which will benefit future activity in the library. They also developed their evaluation skills and tried new ways of working, including less structured events. Some staff taking part in the project were new to event delivery, so this project has helped to build their confidence in event delivery.