Bridgwater Town Council Launches Community Drop Ins

First there were Food Banks and now there are ‘Warm Banks’. In light of the cost-of-living crisis currently devastating the UK, councils are preparing to open “warm banks” to help out. Energy bills – double what they were at the start of the year – are becoming a major problem and mean millions of people will be unable to put on their heating when temperatures plummet this winter and so dedicated refuges are being set up to cope with potential demand. Bridgwater Town Council has agreed to play its part in this and is opening up some of its public buildings to the community with its own version of a warm bank. Community Portfolio Holder, Cllr Liz Marsh (Victoria) is working with Town Council officer Ann Marie Gould to launch Community Drop ins. Ann Marie says From Tuesday 18th October Bridgwater Town Council will be holding a weekly Drop-in session at the Town Hall in the Charter Hall from 10 am to 4 pm. All members of the community are invited to pop in for a free cuppa and a chat. We will have hot drinks and biscuits, newspapers, and books to read, puzzles and board games to share as well as lots of leaflets and info on local support in the community to help us all stay well and warm throughout the coming winter.”

Town Council organiser Ann Marie Gould

Ann Marie continues “We will be inviting all that have a hobby they would like to share with the community to come along and have a chat with us about holding some group crafting or hobby sessions. And, we will also be inviting non-profit organisations and charities such as Navigate CharityMind in SomersetDiversity Voice, and the Somerset Community Foundation to come along to offer informal advice in a relaxed environment. We will post further information in due course about other venues in Bridgwater providing warm spaces and community activities.”

If you are a non-profit organisation or charity that feels they would like to come along to chat with the community, please email to discuss further.

Cllr Liz Marsh, the PFH for ‘Community’ said “Warm banks or spaces are a way of making sure people have somewhere to go that is safe and warm this winter where they can spend the day without spending money they don’t have. They can, however, only ever be a “short-term fix” in the cost of living crisis, and  the government needs to find long-term solutions fast.”

What are warm banks?

Warm banks are safe places with the heating on, where people can go to get warm in the winter if they cannot afford to heat their homes. They will be run by local councils, charities, museums, libraries and NHS services across the country.

Cllr Liz Marsh , Town Council ‘Community’ Portfolio Holder.

Cllr Marsh adds “But they can also be social places where people can enjoy a hot drink and activities together. Bridgwater Town Council has Community properties and one thing we can do is provide a warm space for people to come and make sure no one is at home worrying about how they are going to pay their bills. We don’t want people to have to be forced to choose between heating or eating.”

Around the Councils

A number of councils across the country have already confirmed they will be running warm banks this winter, or at least working with community organisations to provide warm spaces for their residents. It is likely that more will follow.

Some of the councils that have confirmed their plans are Bristol, Aberdeen, Birmingham and Dundee. The warm banks are generally set to open from October, when temperatures begin to drop. In Bristol City Council they say their service will include WiFi, charging facilities, computers and food.

Liz Marsh “linking up with community centres and public buildings”

In Birmingham City Council, they’ll be using  community centres, places of worship and libraries, and to find places where they will can welcome people, free of charge.

Cllr Marsh says “In Bridgwater we’ve decided to open the Town Hall every Tuesday between 10am and 4pm and not only provide hot drinks but provide social activities, hold sessions with other organisations and have our local Councillors also on hand to chat and offer advice and support. In addition to this we are linking up with our community centres and public buildings to provide a comprehensive timetable of events so that every day there is somewhere warm available. It’s beyond shocking that this is the state that we all find ourselves in but we are determined to do all we can to support our communities this winter.”