The Art of Borrowing: Facilitating Integration into New Communities

Published by: Sinéad Mangan-Mc Hale

Published on: 7 May, 2024

By Sinéad Mangan-Mc Hale

In a time of transition and the possibility of multiple relocations, migrants often face numerous challenges settling into a new community and making a home suitable for their family needs. Discover how a remarkable initiative addresses practical needs and also offers an opportunity to interact with a new community.

When people leave their own community, whether by choice or through forced migration, they often must leave behind much of their belongings. Starting over in a new country is challenging and costly. Setting up a new home is expensive, and even the most essential items can be difficult to purchase. This is where the Library of Things proves to be a valuable asset. The Library of Things bridges the gap between what people had before and what they need now by providing access to essential resources that may not be immediately available. From household items like kitchenware to home repairs and maintenance tools, the library ensures that newcomers have the necessities to establish a comfortable living environment without the financial burden of purchasing new items. 

There are items to borrow across categories such as cleaning, DIY, hobbies, gardening, and cooking. So, if you are looking for a carpet cleaner, a sewing machine, an electric drill or even an air fryer for one day or a week, sign up to be part of The Library of Things. If you want to hang a picture in your new home but don’t have a hammer – simply borrow one from your nearest library.

The Library of Things is like any other library: you sign up, borrow and return items within the agreed time frame and rent. For many Library of Things locations, you simply browse the website and reserve the item(s) you need. If it’s available, you can collect it immediately from the nearest kiosk or wait until it becomes available. Once your task is complete, return it to the kiosk for the next member to use. The whole process is explained once you become a member.

Access to equipment without having to purchase it outright is just one of the advantages of being a member of this group. In many ways, it empowers migrants to become more self-sufficient and independent in their new environment. Many locations also provide Skill Sharing Sessions where you can learn new skills or become part of the skills-sharing community and share your skills with others. Members can also join a Repair Party, where you can learn how to mend or repair items or things in the home or garden and meet people from your community. It also allows everyone to explore and try out different interests, pursue hobbies, and enhance their capabilities -so if you want to see if you are interested in sewing, rent a sewing machine for a week. Then, you can decide if you want to buy your own or just need to borrow one on an ad-hoc basis.

In addition, with the challenging housing situation and high rental costs, particularly in major cities, whether a migrant or a local, we often must navigate frequent relocations, creating new homes, meeting different people and settling into new communities. The Library of Things is a practical way of making these moves easier and less expensive and a great opportunity to meet like-minded people.  Mariana Serapicos, shares her experiences of moving from place to place in her moving story  9 lives | TogetherInTheUK.

The concept of sharing libraries promotes sustainability – it’s kinder to the planet. By embracing the principles of resource sharing and reuse, you can support environmentally conscious practices. Borrowing items from the library encourages responsible consumption and waste reduction, empowering you to participate actively in sustainable living initiatives within your adopted home. And with research indicating that a typical householder only uses a drill for ten minutes in its lifetime, it makes sense to borrow one.

The journey that migrants and refugees have to take can often be difficult and challenging at every step of the way. Being able to control some aspects of settling into a new community will give you a greater sense of confidence and belonging, and the Library of Things is an efficient and effective way of achieving this. 

There are many different libraries, so check out the list below and find the one that most suits your needs. Each library may have a different approach to borrowing items, so check before signing up.

Library of Things

Share Shed

Share Frome

Bath Library of Things

TGIUK has developed a series of practical guides for migrants and refugees on topics essential to settling into a new life in the UK. To read more, go to TogetherintheUK Practical Information.

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