Durham County Council are working alongside the County Durham Community Foundation (the Foundation) to offer funding to the voluntary and community sector to create a network of places where people can go to safe, trusted spaces that happen to be warm.
The network aims to support residents through the winter following an increase in energy costs and the rising cost-of-living.
Alongside community groups and organisations, the county’s 39 library buildings will also join the scheme.
With a combined pot of £200,000 available to support organisations which can apply for a grant of up to £1,000 for their community warm space offer.
Working in partnership to support residents
Durham County Council are working with a range of other organisations on the initiative, including East Durham Trust, Durham Community Action and local church groups.
Each Warm Space will also be able to signpost those who need it to financial support and energy efficiency advice.
Training and support
Participants will need to sign up to a simple charter, setting out standards for the scheme, and will be asked to display a window poster to highlight their involvement.
Community groups and organisations that receive support will also be offered training on a range of topics, including basic mental health, food safety and safeguarding, with grants able to cover a range of expenses such as utility bills, volunteer expenses or staff time, equipment and furniture.
Once community Warm Spaces are confirmed, they will be added to Locate, an online directory allowing residents to connect with local services in their community. Key information including opening times, accessibility and any other facilities available, such as the offer of hot drinks or wi-fi, will be highlighted to ensure people can access their nearest space.
Organisations wishing to offer a Warm Space without accessing the additional funding can email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up to the charter. Details of these will also be added to Locate.
The warm space locator can be found at https://www.durham.gov.uk/warmspaces. It is continuing updated as organisations join.