Residents in St Helens are to get important extra support during the current Cost of Living situation with the launch of special ‘Warm Spaces’ across the borough.
The facilities, which are operating across all libraries in St Helens and some community sites, will provide heated areas for all residents to use plus the provision of free hot drinks at some sites.
The programme is being expanded and now includes selected leisure centres, food pantries, parish centres, local churches, sports clubs and other community sites as available Warm Spaces for residents.
The Warm Spaces facilities in the borough are places where people can go for free to get warm, stay warm, have a warm place to work from, enjoy a little company in a safe environment and at some sites, get a hot drink. The sites are open to all residents and can be accessed during the opening hours for each site. Further details on the sites currently available can be found here: Directory – St Helens Borough Council
The initiative has been made possible through close working between the council and local partners. Other local organisations are also now being encouraged to come forward and provide additional Warm Space sites for residents to use. Any organisation wishing to provide a site can sign up to the scheme and the Warm Spaces charter by clicking on the Register Your Warm space option here: Warm Spaces – keeping St Helens warm this winter – St Helens Borough Council
The council and partners are looking to ensure advice is available to residents attending the Warm Spaces sites, to help with issues such as rising energy costs, application for grants and advice on everyday living costs.
This includes programmes such the Sustainable Warmth Funding Scheme (SWF) which can provide assistance to help improve the energy efficiency of low-income and low-energy performance homes. The scheme can provide a range of improvements and may include insulation measures, solar panels and low carbon heating amongst others. Further details on eligibility and how you can benefit are here: Sustainable Warmth Funding – St Helens Borough Council
Councillor Anthony Burns, St Helens Borough Council Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Culture and Heritage said: “At a time when many residents in the borough are wondering how they will be able to afford to heat their homes during the next few months with extremely high energy costs, the opening of Warm Spaces are a vital outlet giving people the opportunity to keep warm and safe and we would encourage residents to take advantage of them.
“It is wonderful to see ourselves and partners coming together to help residents in the borough in this way – hopefully the spaces will provide much needed warmth and comfort for people during the coldest periods in the months ahead. The Warm Space sites themselves will be safely managed by both our staff and our partners so if you use them you can be assured that it will be a warm welcoming environment with an opportunity to chat with others if you wish.”
Ruth du Plessis, Director of Public Health at St Helens Borough Council, said: “With the cold winter weather now upon us it is likely that fuel poor households could be faced with the prospect of being unable to heat their homes in the months ahead. That’s why we have set up the Warm Spaces, so those residents that need to can use them as a safe and welcoming place to keep warm, to socialise and to work.
“Not only can they help with alleviating some of the pressure of trying to keep your home warm when you can’t afford to but they will also hopefully provide important assistance in getting help from a range of services. It will also potentially help to protect residents from becoming ill with infections such as flu.
“Please do use the Warm Spaces facilities if you need to and please particularly encourage any vulnerable relatives or friends you know to do so as well.”
Residents can also take these small but important steps to stay healthy during the winter period:
- Keep up to date with vaccinations; make sure you have received a flu vaccine and pneumonia vaccine if you are eligible, and make sure you have had all your COVID-19 vaccinations. Parents are particularly encouraged to get their children vaccinated against flu when they can as cases have risen sharply across the country in the last week.
- When you have symptoms of an infection, such as a temperature, new cough, feeling unwell, diarrhoea or vomiting, try and avoid contact or keep your distance from others
- Wash your hands – it really does help to stop the spread of infection; wash or sanitise your hands regularly especially after going to the toilet, before eating food, and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
- Eat at least one hot healthy meal a day and keep hydrated, 6 to 8 cups or glasses of fluid a day
- If you are vulnerable to serious illness, keep your house warm (at least 18°C)
- Look out for vulnerable neighbours, relatives and friends
The facilities, which are initially operating across all libraries in St Helens and some community sites, will provide heated areas for all residents to use plus the provision of free hot drinks at some sites.