With temperatures dropping, residents are being encouraged to visit their local library to enjoy a warm welcome, a cuppa and the chance to make some meaningful connections.
Following on from the successful launch in 2022, warm spaces are once again being delivered in libraries across Lancashire.
When people enter a warm space in Lancashire, they do so with a guarantee they will be treated with respect and dignity, without judgement and in confidence.
At its heart, Lancashire Warm Spaces is about enriching the library experience and reminding people of their importance in the community.
“Friendships have been formed because of the warm and welcome offer,” said library officer Katie Turner, manager of Kingsfold Library in Penwortham.
“Three men all came into the library separately and sat on the sofa with a drink.
“After speaking with each man individually they started to attend events such the drop in café, Memories and Melodies, games afternoon and Chaps Who Chat.
“All three men admitted to feeling a bit isolated and were looking to meet other likeminded people.
“What is really nice about this group is that these men have formed a firm friendship outside of the library.”
The three men now meet up every Thursday for the Memories group in the morning and the board game group in the afternoon, and go around each other’s homes twice weekly to watch old movies.
Les Eastham, who is part of this tight knit group, started attending Kingsfold Library following his retirement and is thankful for the impact it’s had on his life.
“I wanted to do something in the daytime that would make my life more interesting,” Les said.
“The bonus of coming to these two groups is that I’ve not just made friends that I see each week, but I’ve also met a couple of friends who I actually go to their house, and they go to my house.
“So that’s expanded on the library experience here. It’s taken more of my time, which I’m really chuffed about.”
Anyone who visits a library in Lancashire can enjoy a warm drink, free computers and Wi-Fi, charging points for digital equipment, events and activities, and can join the library to borrow books and use the 24/7 e-book service.
It’s also an opportunity for people to speak to staff to find further information about what support is available in Lancashire.
The county council is also supporting town and parish councils, as well as other community organisations to set up their own warm spaces through the Lancashire Warm Spaces grant scheme.
You can also email us if you have any questions regarding this grant scheme, or require any support.
Residents can search for their nearest warm space via Lancashire County Council’s online directory.
Another vital service that is supporting vulnerable residents is the Pensioner Benefits Uptake Campaign. Delivered by district councils in collaboration with Lancashire County Council’s Welfare Rights service, this service contacts over-75s and asks them to apply for a free and confidential benefits check to ensure they’re claiming everything they’re entitled to. It’s currently being run in Preston, Ribble Valley, Lancaster, Burnley and Wyre, with a view to being rolled out across Lancashire.
Citizens Advice in Preston are continuing to deliver the British Gas Energy Trust Fuel Debt Project (BGET) over the 12 Lancashire County Council districts. The service supports those in financial difficulty with trained staff delivering free specialist fuel debt advice.
Families can also access the Household Support Fund, which is aimed at helping vulnerable families struggling to cover essential costs who may not be eligible for other Government support schemes.
County Councillor Michael Green, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “We want people to know that there is support out there to help with the cost of living.
“The offering in our warm spaces encourages people to stay in the library and gives staff a chance to tell them about the many things the library has to offer and what further support is out there.
“We are proud of our website, which we established as a one-stop signpost for residents to enable them to more easily access help from Lancashire County Council, the Government and our local partners.
“I would urge residents to visit lancashire.gov.uk/costofliving or to pop into their local library for more information.”