Sefton Warm Places network being developed in response to Cost of Living crisis
To help people facing a difficult winter because of soaring fuel bills and rising prices in the shops, Sefton Council and Sefton Council for Voluntary Services (CVS) have been developing a ‘Warm Places’ scheme.
Sefton’s Warm Places will be a network of community venues that local people affected by the current cost of living crisis can visit to keep warm without the fear of what they are spending on gas and electricity.
Sefton Council and Sefton CVS have identified a number of local community organisations that responded to a recent Cost Of Living survey, to set up a network of ‘Warm Spaces’. At each location, hot drinks and snacks will be available and there will be access to books and games for people to enjoy while they are there. Some would also include social activities run by volunteers.
Libraries across the Borough will be part of the Warm Places network but are already providing a warm, year-round welcome as well as free computer and Wi-Fi access for people who might struggle to get online.
Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing said: “Recognising the enormous pressure that some households across Sefton would be facing under the growing cost of living crisis, which is, in reality, about the cost of surviving, the Council and Sefton Council for Voluntary Services began the process of establishing these Warm Places.
“We approached community groups and venues across the Borough because they are already geared up to meet the needs of local people. We asked them to propose suitable locations that are accessible, are on or close to public transport routes and that can cater for people of all ages including parents and young babies.
“We have had a number of proposals, which we now need to follow up so that Warm Places can start to open up for local people who have been left desperate, not knowing don’t where to turn, before winter really hits.”
Angel White, Chief Executive of Sefton CVS said: “During a time when our local communities are facing unprecedented pressures of the cost of living crisis, Sefton’s voluntary, community and faith sector have once again risen to the challenge to provide practical frontline support to Sefton residents.
“Sefton CVS are pleased to be working in partnership with Sefton Council to coordinate a network of community venues across the borough to offer warm, welcoming spaces to local residents who may be struggling with their household energy costs during the winter months”.
Participating organisations will have to show that providing a Warm Hub place will be over and above the existing services they provide. They will also need to prove they have measure such as health and safety, safeguarding and liability insurances in place. As well as covering the running of venues and providing warm meals and drinks, the funding will help with the additional costs for activities and volunteers to run them.”
Cllr Hardy added: “As hard as it is to believe that in this day and age, we are having to take these measures to help people with a national crisis that is about the cost of people surviving, I am pleased that Seton’s local community groups and organisations have stepped up with some positive proposals, which we hope to see in place soon.”
Sefton Council has set up a special Cost of Living section on its website at www.sefton.gov.uk/costofliving. Areas it covers include Welfare Benefits, free school meals, help with rent and Council Tax, debt advice, health and wellbeing, foodbanks & food pantries and a link to the Sefton Support Hub.
Additionally, there are details of the Emergency Limited Assistance (ELAS) scheme, which can provide a one-off payment to Sefton residents experiencing severe hardship, a disaster or emergency.
And, because there are those who do not have easy access to digital information, the Council has also produced and distributed an easy-print factsheet. It contains advice about support available as well as a reminder that there is free computer and Wi-Fi access at all Sefton Council Libraries. People just need to visit their local branch to find out more.
The Council’s Contact Centre can also be contacted on 0345 140 0845.