Devon

Plymouth Central Library opens doors on Christmas Day

Plymouth Library Image copyright Melanie Rawles
Image caption Nearly 100 people attended the event, double the number who turned up in 2017

Plymouth Central Library opened on Christmas Day to offer warmth and festive cheer to the lonely.

Staff from libraries across the city gave up three hours of their day off to host the event.

Visitors received gifts, tucked into mince pies and shared Christmas messages written by schoolchildren.

Organisers said they hoped the event helped to combat "social isolation" on a day when few other services were available.

The library opened on Christmas Day last year for the first time after staff said they wanted to help people who had nowhere to go.

Many were so moved by the experience they volunteered to open the doors for three hours this time.

Image caption Mandy Macdonald said staff felt keeping the library open brought back "the real meaning of Christmas"

Mandy Macdonald, the head of Plymouth Libraries, said when the decision was made to open last year, staff "didn't know what to expect".

"We felt it might attract the homeless community, but on the day a lot of people came in because they had nowhere else to go or they had no company."

She said the event attracted people of all ages, from children playing games to older people who wanted a chat.

One of those who turned up, Nicola Light, said: "I came to be with people and have some company, to spread Christmas cheer and talk with people who are lonely."

Library manager Mel Rawles said: "You always assume that most people have somebody or some reason that Christmas is special, but we find throughout the year that we see people on a regular basis who don't have anyone else.

"Christmas for some people is just another day - there is no feeling of celebration."

Image caption Mel Rawles said the experience showed her "a little time and thought" could make "a world of difference" to them

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