A few steps from the Roman Road market, you’ll find the Idea Store Bow.
As soon as you enter, you find a cafe and signs for different zones, including the so-called ‘learning labs’ which are an integral part of these spaces.
“What makes an idea store, an idea store,” one of the librarians told me, “is that we are a learning centre. As well as the usual library services, we run a range of adult learning courses, as well as lots of different activities.”
She handed me a brochure.
There’s not only English and Maths, but courses in business and cookery, fashion and textiles or foreign languages and interpreting. The courses are very competitively priced and are also offered at a concessionary price if you receive a job seekers or an employment support allowance, income support or an incapacity benefit, a pension credit or if you earn less than 21,ooo a year.
If you fall in this concessionary bracket, you could get qualified in British Sign Language to Level 1, which is a course of 32 weeks, for a mere ten pounds.
Or a ten weeks of ‘Strictly Ballroom’ classes for twenty pounds.
A bicycle maintenance course for ten pounds.
Upholstery for twenty-five.
All these skills, and more, are being learnt within these walls.