Northamptonshire village sets up ‘community living rooms’ to help residents keep warm this winter

“It offers something - not just to people struggling with their energy bills - but to other people who are feeling isolated in winter.”
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Community spaces in Northamptonshire are opening their doors to help people keep warm throughout winter as energy bills continue to rise in the cost of living crisis.

The local church, chapel and Sunday School Rooms in Bugbrooke, near Northampton, have set up ‘community living rooms’ to provide residents with a place to keep warm and socialise during the cold winter months.

Parish councillor for Bugbrooke, Jane Wood, felt inspired to launch this initiative by the nationwide ‘Warm Spaces’ scheme that signposts people to nearby warm banks.

Parish councillor Jane Wood outside the Sunday School Rooms in Bugbrooke.Parish councillor Jane Wood outside the Sunday School Rooms in Bugbrooke.
Parish councillor Jane Wood outside the Sunday School Rooms in Bugbrooke.

Jane said: “We have a community living room because it is just nicer. We don’t want it to be a stigma for people to come. We don't want it to feel like that and because I feel like it now offers something - not just to people struggling with their energy bills - but to other people who are feeling isolated in winter, living alone and not able to get out. It will be a community benefit.”

Residents are welcome to come along to the community living rooms to grab a hot drink and a light refreshment such as soup, cakes and biscuits - all free of charge. There will also be activities including board games and toys for children and a space to socialise.

Ms Wood told Chronicle & Echo: “It is an open door for anyone to come in, sit down, have a drink and keep warm.”

She added that provision will develop depending on what people say they need. She is looking into potentially asking people from organisations to come along and give helpful information about energy efficiency and driving people to and from community living rooms if they have no means to get there themselves.

The Sunday School Rooms in Bugbrooke is one of three venues in the village set to become a 'community living room' for residents needing warmth this winter.The Sunday School Rooms in Bugbrooke is one of three venues in the village set to become a 'community living room' for residents needing warmth this winter.
The Sunday School Rooms in Bugbrooke is one of three venues in the village set to become a 'community living room' for residents needing warmth this winter.
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The community living rooms will launch on Monday October 31 and will run for three days a week to begin with but it is hoped that enough funding will be secured to make these warm spaces available to people every day.

Bugbrooke Parish Council has agreed to fund this initiative for the first month and will reimburse venues for costs of heating and refreshments.

Ms Wood said: “Bugbrooke is a beautiful place with lots of people and lots of things going on but we have a village food bank serving 20 families each week and that was before the cost of living crisis started to bite. It feels like this is a really good time to open something up to people.”

The Bugbrooke community living rooms will run as follows:

- Monday 10am - 12pm: St Michael and All Angels Church

- Thursday 1pm - 5pm: Bugbrooke Chapel

- Saturday 2.30pm to 5.30pm: Sunday School Rooms

Nether Heyford Parish Council also launched a warm room, which is open every Wednesday from 9am to 5pm.

Other venues that have signed up to the ‘Warm Spaces’ scheme include Kettering’s town library, Open Door Church and Johnny’s Happy Place community cafe.

The cost of living in September 2022 has risen by 10.1 percent in comparison to consumer prices in September 2021.

Are you setting up a warm bank? Email [email protected].