culture + environment creating health + wellbeing engaged research

UNESCO: Welfare Sanctuary

To celebrate Exeter’s status as a UNESCO City of Literature, the Centre held a short call for literary research projects.


When the country was put into lockdown, 25 of Libraries Unlimited’s staff from across the organization embarked on the Design Thinking process, developing ‘How might we support people through our services in the short to medium term of these Covid-19 times?’ questions in light of the public buildings being closed and physical services shifting on-line or no longer being available to the patrons. Given the various relationships people have to the physical buildings one of the themes that arose from the process asked:

‘How might we provide a sense of sanctuary beyond the library walls?’

The Welfare Sanctuary Project takes over disused or under-used urban/green spaces and provides a new place of learning for residents and visitors. A safe outdoor space where people can come together to experiment and discover more about organic food production, biodiversity and climate protection. The space will help them adapt to climate change and learn about healthy eating, sustainable living and a future-oriented urban lifestyle. Fresh organic vegetables and herbs are grown in raised beds across the site without the use of pesticides. There are seating and table areas safely positioned across the site where people can enjoy a drink and a meal. The food and drink concessions are rented on a rotation basis by local hospitality businesses, giving an on-going interest for locals to return, they are housed in adapted shipping containers. Likewise there is a shipping container library where people can arrange to pick up books and sit outside to read them over a pint and events arranged for small safe groups, such as Star Gazing, Flower Arranging and Bird Watching led by specialists as well as culturally engaged activity.


Project Partners: