Living Knowledge blog

15 September 2021

Welcoming local friends back through our doors in London

As our building in St Pancras fully opened up this summer, we were excited to welcome back friends and neighbours on our doorstep after well over a year, thanks to the Holiday Activities Fund (HAF) programme.

Group from KCBNA
The brilliant group from KCBNA including youth workers Kamil, Ali and Nathan

In partnership with Young Camden Foundation and Camden Council, young people from the King’s Cross Brunswick Neighbourhood Association (KCBNA) community enjoyed fun learning activities, gained new skills and were inspired by stories of local start-up successes across two weeks of the holidays here at the Library.

In the first week our curators shared all kinds of items from our collection with the youngest children in the group, covering the origins of the Olympics, football fanzines and the first-ever published comics.

For most of the group it was their first time coming through the doors of our St Pancras building. And once inside they got a full behind-the-scenes tour including some of the most important books, maps and manuscripts in our collection on display in the Treasures Gallery, plus a first-hand experience of campaigning for change in our exhibition Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women's Rights. Local art teacher Annabel Levin also ran a workshop where the children got stuck into a tie-dying session.

Annabel with cotton and coloured dyes
Annabel with cotton that the group had tie-died with colourful ink, pebbles and string

In the second week local teenagers met with Matt Judkins MBA,  inventor of the world’s flattest international charger. Matt introduced the group to the world of start-up businesses from budgeting to branding. He told us how to sell a product or service and challenged the group to invent something new and original to take to market.

The enthusiastic group pitched their brilliant ideas in front of an audience and panel of our Business & IP Centre users who had previously benefitted from our start-up business support services. Among them was local entrepreneur, Ije Ene, who runs a sustainable fashion business.

'The young people learned a huge amount over the course of the week and were really inspired. I’ve had several young people telling me they want to be entrepreneurs and the parents asking what we did to get them so motivated!' Shofi Muhammod, Senior Youth Worker said.

A man speaking outside the British Library
Nigel Spencer, our Research and Business Manager, sharing advice on starting up a business in the Poet’s Circle

The HAF programme is just one of a range of activities we run to engage local people, many of which would not bepossible without our partners. A big thank you to Camden Council's Young Camden Foundation and King’s Cross Brunswick Neighbourhood Association, as well as our own curators, for making this happen. With the help of all our partners and supporters, we’ll keep opening up a world of ideas and inspiration for everyone, both in our own neighbourhood, and across the UK.