We celebrated Libraries of Sanctuary in Autumn 2021

Across September and October, we created exciting live events featuring music, art, discussion, poetry and family friendly workshops in Bolton, Manchester, and Oldham Libraries.

Bolton, Manchester, and Oldham Libraries are now accredited as Libraries of Sanctuary, libraries which welcome refugees and asylum seekers to help support them to become part of their local community.

The libraries joined just a handful of UK libraries with this award.

We were delighted to have developed, together with Crossing Footprints and library teams, a packed programme of celebratory events.

From July to October 2021, we created a series of exciting live Artist Showcases and Welcome Events featuring music, art, discussion, social media films, poetry and family-friendly workshops in Bolton, Manchester, and Oldham Libraries.

Artist Showcases

In July, we kicked off our Libraries of Sanctuary artist showcase programme with one of the first live music events in Manchester after lockdown. Internationally acclaimed musicians Seyed Ali Jaberi and the Hamdel Ensemble wowed a sell-out crowd at Manchester Central Library with contemplative Persian music inspired by the 13th- century poet Rumi and Sufism.

Next up, on the afternoon of Saturday 18 September, there was free live music at Bolton Library.  It was time to dance amongst the library’s thousands of books African and Latin sounds from Britannia Rumba a group featuring leading African musicians. The band has toured all over the UK, Europe, and Africa.

Band and audience member – clearly loving it!


On Saturday 25 September, there was an opportunity to be part of Voices For Action, a free mini-festival, with a world perspective on climate change and its impact on people. Voices For Action featured music, poetry, visual and digital arts, and discussion.

There were African sounds and reflections on environmental destruction in DRC from singer, Emmanuela Yogolelo, contemporary Sufi music based on her climate conversations with Pakistani women from Sarah Yaseen, an interactive art installation with Rabia Begum with Lubna Ali and Fatimah Fagihassan, plus a sharing of microfilms designed for social media from Murad Chowdhury and participants in Oldham and Germany.


The event enabled communities from Oldham and Germany to be part of the global campaign speaking out about climate justice.  The event took place against the background of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow and the international conversation about climate change and climate justice.  And what better way to do it than with some art and music?

Welcome Events

From September to October we ran a series of free family-friendly welcome events featuring art, music and dance workshops and performances in Oldham and Manchester.

Saturday 11 September Chadderton Library in Oldham

There was a music and craft workshop at Chadderton Library, Oldham with live music and a workshop from leading musicians, Michael Cretu (Romania) and Mina Salama (Egypt) from the internationally acclaimed Manchester International Roots Orchestra (MIRO) plus a doll-making workshop with artist Kani Kamil.

Doll-making in action


Saturday 2 October – Northmoor Library in Oldham

We hosted a family-friendly workshop with Bangladeshi heritage artists, Apu Chowdury and Rabia BegumRabia Begum ran an art and poetry session that created beautiful decorations on the library’s bookshelves inspired by nature and climate change, whilst Apu Chowdury entranced families with the tale of The Monkey and the Greedy Crocodile. 

Families getting together at Northmoor


Check out more pictures from the fantastic day here!

Saturday 16 October – Forum Library in Wythenshawe

A family-friendly workshop and performance of sub-Saharan singing and percussion from AMANI artists, Tagne Tebu and Emmanuela Yogolelo made for an exciting afternoon at Wythenshawe’s library. Families tried out crafting with a doll-making workshop with Congolese artist Gloria Saya.

Saturday 23 October – Longsight Library

Families in Longsight enjoyed an afternoon of performance with the chance to join in Ethiopian dance and learn circus skills with Masresha Getahun Wondmu.  There was Persian percussion with Arian Sadr, and an Art of Protest art workshop with artist Mei Yuk Wong.


Saturday 30 October – Beswick Library

A family-friendly workshop and performance featuring West African percussion and dance with Imani Jendai and Tagne Tebu and a doll-making workshop with Gloria Saya delighted library users in Beswick.




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