Pensby welcomes new coffee shop and antiques store as library reopens

A new coffee shop, antiques store, and reopened library has opened its doors in Pensby.

Pensby Library reopens on 16 May after nearly two years of being closed. The library closed in October 2022 as part of sweeping cuts to balance Wirral Council’s budget that year. This saw the library as well as eight others closed alongside two golf courses and a leisure centre.

Pioneer People, a local charity which previously took over a community centre, looked to take it over putting in a bid to manage the library going forward. It got access to the building in February and has since been moving in.

It has set up tables and chairs, some made from old sewing machines, a bike, and a cable reel with an antiques store, a stocked library, and a coffee shop also inside.

It will be opening at 9am three days a week to start with on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays with cakes, coffees, homemade Belgian waffles, paninis, soup, and sandwiches.

Mark Johnston

Mark Johnston, the charity’s director, said, “It’s been a difficult process. Mainly because I think the council are under-resourced but the intention has been fabulous, handing the asset back to the community, which I think is very, very positive.

“I want it to have a real sense of quality just to kick back and relax with a really good cup of coffee. Get a coffee, get something for somebody, and get a couple of books. I hope people will embrace the whole experience.

“The reaction has been quite incredible. I think people have really missed the library. It’s on a very busy thoroughfare with Tesco and the Post Office. People have been popping in saying they can’t wait for it to open. We have managed to recruit 25 brand new volunteers to the organisation.

“I want it to be owned by the community. We feel as a charity we have stepped in but we have done that on behalf of the local community. The more involved the local community is, the more it will flourish.”

Polina and Luidmyla Yaremchuk

Luidmyla Yaremchuk, 44, moved to Pensby one and a half years ago with her daughter Polina, 17, after fleeing the war in Ukraine. They are from the city of Rivne in the western part of the country but said the community in Wirral has welcomed them with open arms.

Luidmyla has been training over the last few months at a café in Wallasey and will now run the coffee shop as her first job in the UK. She said, “I was really happy to join the team.”

She said, “I would like to go back home because home is home but for now it is safe here,” adding, “The British people are so kind and I really like the atmosphere, that kindness that British people have for the Ukrainian people and their support.”

Pete Richie

Pete Richie is a pastor at the nearby Emmanuel Church. He said, “I have lived here all my life. I came here myself as a little kid and sat in the kid’s corner. That was a few years ago and my kids have come here as well.”

He said a new space was important, adding, “People do not tend to know their neighbours like they used to. Community facilities like this are really valuable for people to reconnect with each other.

“We get into our cars at the end of the drive and disappear. We do not speak to many people as we used to. Pensby needs this. It’s where people are going to reconnect to each other.”

Lead image: Volunteers celebrate the new library and coffee shop. All images credit: Ed Barnes

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