THE local library might seem an unlikely place to go to keep fit, but thanks to one local charity that is exactly what is on offer in Higher Croft.

Blackburn with Darwen Healthy Living, which is a finalist for the Social Responsibility Award, took over the library when it was threatened with closure, and now also runs a community gym there.

Chief officer Abdul Mulla said: “The council was closing the library so we took it over and now it’s run 22 hours a week by 15 volunteers.

“We also run art and craft classes for local mums and children, and during the week schools bring their pupils along.

“When the council first gave us the keys they wanted it to be open 18 hours a week. We’re already doing more hours than that.”

But the Roman Road library and gym is not the only project run by this 10-year-old charity.

There is a drop-in centre at St James’s Church, just minutes away from the library, and plans to open a similar centre in another church nearby, catering for local young people.

Abdul, who began working for the charity as a volunteer, said: “We also provide a service to help those who can’t pay their bills. In the last five years we’ve helped write off £100,000 in fuel debts.

“I’m Blackburn born and bred and passionate about improving the town as a place to live.”

The charity is also currently working on a project to address hate crime