Libraries and community centres to be opened as warm spaces
Wandsworth Town Library
November 15, 2022
Families in Wandsworth will be able to shower and eat meals for free in council buildings to help them deal with the rising cost of food and fuel. Libraries and community centres in Wandsworth will open to residents struggling to heat their homes this winter so they can shelter from the cold.
A network of “warm spaces” will be provided by 18 buildings across the borough. A number of councils across London have made similar moves to set up what have been dubbed ‘heatbanks’. Residents will be offered hot drinks, meals, childcare and a place to shower at some, while others will host events, activities, film clubs and more.
The authority has also opened a helpline for people struggling with their bills.
Council leader Simon Hogg said the authority is opening the warm spaces to “provide a sanctuary to those in need” as many residents are “having to make really difficult choices about eating properly or keeping warm”.
He said. “We are determined to do all we can to make a difference by offering a compassionate helping hand and supporting our residents through these difficult winter months.
“The funding for this important scheme comes from council reserves. That means we can keep the same low council tax. This is important as council tax hits those on low incomes the hardest.”
The borough’s six children’s centres will host breakfast clubs, lunches and other activities for kids aged under five and their families – along with opportunities to charge phones and shower where those facilities are available. Older kids will also be able to do homework and have dinners at the centres, which will provide free internet access.
There will also be free internet access and a range of events including coffee mornings for residents at Wandsworth’s 11 libraries. Five of these libraries will open for longer and host activities like film clubs in places where families are struggling the most.
R.O.S.E Community Clubroom in Battersea will expand its current provision of arts and wellbeing activities on Mondays to offer hot meals, snacks and free childcare support for up to eight kids.
The council has set aside £5 million to help residents with the cost-of-living crisis, including £200,000 in grants to support volunteers and other community organisations. The council’s cost of living helpline is 0808 175 3339.
Charlotte Lillywhite - Local Democracy Reporter