Northamptonshire: Council seeks warm spaces for community

A search is under way for areas that can be used as warm spaces by the community.

West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) has issued an appeal after nearly 100 community groups in the area offered heated rooms and a warm welcome as part of a similar initiative last year.

The scheme was a response to high energy bills and an attempt to combat social isolation.

Most offered refreshments and hot drinks and some laid on activities.

A network of more than 2,300 warm spaces sprang up last year across England as people struggled with increasing energy bills and some resorted to turning their central heating off during the day.

WNC invited voluntary groups to come forward and 96 organisations signed up, including cafés, libraries, village halls and churches.

Some offered activities such as knitting, board games and craft activities.

WNC said almost 53,000 people took advantage of the rooms in the first three months of this year.

The council's ruling Conservative group was criticised by Labour for not offering rooms in the Guildhall and other council offices as warm spaces.

Some charities have also criticised the initiative generally, saying people should be able to heat their own homes rather than going elsewhere.

Others believe warm spaces should offer more specific help, such as community meals.

Matt Golby, WNC's cabinet member for adult social care and public health, encouraged community and voluntary groups to sign up, adding: "We have had a great response so far with 40 organisations registered to date."

The council said some grants were available for warm spaces projects.

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