CITY libraries have been awarded the prestigious title of Library of Sanctuary.

Southampton's library service is only the third in the country to be awarded the title that is overseen by City of Sanctuary UK.

The initiative was set-up to recognise the important role libraries can play in providing a safe and welcoming space for people seeking sanctuary and for other new arrivals in communities.

Working towards the award, library staff received Refugee, Asylum Seeker and Migrant training to ensure sanctuary seekers feel welcome in the cities libraries and so that staff have a greater understanding of their needs.

Councillor Satvir Kaur, Cabinet Member for Homes and Culture, said: "I’m absolutely thrilled that Southampton’s fantastic library team, working in partnership, have secured the prestigious Library of Sanctuary award.

"Southampton’s strength is in its diversity, being a welcoming port city for centuries.

"Now as a City of Sanctuary, it’s great our local libraries can join and complement the work already done by our schools, universities, and many community organisations.”

The Council’s Library Service also secured National Lottery funding to establish a language café, working alongside Southampton & Winchester Visitors Group.

This helps to befriend sanctuary seekers and the staff are working towards a launch for the café, in line with government guidelines.

The announcement coincides with Libraries Week which started on Monday and is running until Friday, October 10.

The event is an annual celebration of the invaluable role libraries play in bringing reading, information, learning and computer access to our communities and several events will be taking place throughout the week.