Maxine Peake and Christopher Eccleston are fighting alongside Salford’s Working Class Movement Library (WCML) in its battle to cope with funding cuts.
Both stars live in Salford and have working-class backgrounds, and both have emphasised their belief in the WCML’s importance.
Shameless star, Peake, said: “We should never be allowed to forget the struggles and sacrifices of the working class and the WCML is vital for that.
“If I had my way every school would include on their syllabus The History of the Working Class and include a visit to the WCML.”
Dennis McGinn, WCML Treasurer, said: “I think that’s the importance of it really, at school you learnt about Queens and aristocrats, but we represent working-class importance”.
UNRIVALLED COLLECTION: WCML Treasurer Dennis McGinn in the library
The library hosts an unrivalled collection of books, pamphlets, magazines and banners charting working-class history.
In fact, the depth and sheer amount of material collated in the WCML’s collection means it is completely unique to Salford.
Mr McGinn said: “Anything to do with agitation and struggle, we’ve got it here.”
The library, which has yearly running costs of £100,000, formerly received an annual £32,000 grant from Salford City Council, however, this is being reduced to £22,000 over three years.
MP Hazel Blears also used to have offices in the WCML’s Jubilee House premises, with the rent and service charges she paid to Salford Council returned to the WCML.
However, Blears has relocated and a three-year Heritage Lottery Fund grant has just come to an end, which added to the cuts, poses a huge problem for the WCML.
Councillor Paula Boshell, Salford Council’s lead member for neighbourhoods, culture and leisure said: “To reach the tough savings targets we’ve been set the council has been forced to make budget cuts across most services, including funding to the Working Class Movement Library.
“To reduce the impact, we have been in discussions with the library for some time and at the beginning of the year we agreed to reduce funding gradually, by £10,000 over the next three years.”
Though the pain of the cuts has been tempered, they will still hurt the WCML and will only increase as time goes on.
Mr McGinn stated that although the library is not under immediate threat of closure, it will have to make huge inroads into its savings.
He hopes to double the £40,000 the WCML receives in yearly donations so that it has a chance of long-term survival.
SURVIVAL: Dennis McGinn hopes the yearly donations will double to stay open long-term
Raising awareness is the WCML’s main endurance strategy which is where its celebrity supporters come in.
Former Doctor Who, Christopher Eccleston, has narrated a promotional DVD as part of the WCML’s publicity campaign.
Eccleston said: “I don’t think enough people know of the Library’s existence and that was one of the ideas behind the film and one of the reasons why I wanted to do the narration.
“There couldn’t be a better home for the Library than Salford because Salford embodies the struggle of the working classes”.
Maxine Peake has also read poetry at WCML events and Mr McGinn said she is willing to help them at the drop of a hat.
The library is also forging links with Trade Unions, campaigning on Twitter and Facebook and hoping to increase voluntary donations.
It does not want to increase its £5 a month membership fees, so hopes people will give more where they can.
Mr McGinn said: “The more people that know about us, the more people will want to support us”.
Information on the WCML can be found on their website http://www.wcml.org.uk/about-us/ or pay them a visit at 51, The Crescent, Salford M5 4WX.