Warm hubs are offering a free space for residents again this winter.

Buckinghamshire Council announced it was opening libraries as warm hubs known as Welcoming Spaces to help residents stay warm.

The initiative continues after all council and community libraries opened as Welcoming Spaces last winter due to the cost of living crisis and skyrocketing energy bills hitting many hard.

Welcoming Spaces aim to provide a warm, free, safe and supportive space, where anyone can charge up their devices and use the Wi-Fi to save on heating bills, access advice, meet new people and find activities and groups to boost physical and mental health.

Buckinghamshire Council’s cabinet member for culture and leisure Clive Harriss said: “Libraries are the perfect place for people to come to if they are in need of some warmth and company.

"Cost of living pressures are still having an impact on residents and if you are worried about putting your heating on at home, please remember, you can come to one of our Welcoming Spaces.

"Not only can you relax in comfort, anyone seeking a bit of company can meet with others and our staff are on hand with information and advice on a range of topics. The initiative worked so well last year that we are keen to ensure that everyone knows they are once again open to all.”

Many other community organisations have also opened Welcoming Spaces in church halls and community centres across the county. 

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Any groups or organisations wanting to offer a Welcoming Space can get a free toolkit to help register and promote the service. 

The council is also working with voluntary and community organisations to distribute Warm Packs with a blanket and warm socks particularly to vulnerable residents. 

Cabinet member for communities Arif Hussain said: “We are asking people to be a good neighbour and keep an eye on them, especially older people or those who live on their own.

Just a quick knock on their door to see if they are okay, offering to clear their drive of snow or ice or checking if they need any groceries from the shop, small gestures like this can make all the difference to a vulnerable person.”

“Winter is a wonderful season but it can also be more likely that problems can occur, particularly due to the weather. The good news is, there are lots of simple but practical things we can do to prepare ourselves for winter.

From making sure your car is equipped to cope during a snowy or icy period to checking that you are well stocked with any medications or provisions you may need should a spell of bad weather make it more difficult to go out, it all helps to be prepared.”