Britain’s public libraries are once again preparing to provide warmth, company and support to those most affected by the cost-of-living crisis this winter.
Warm spaces – sometimes called warm hubs or warm banks – are free community venues where people can go to stay warm during the colder months. The movement began last year when energy prices soared because of the war in Ukraine.
A survey of our members revealed that almost all respondents – 93% - would be taking part in a formal warm spaces scheme. The first of these will open later this month, when the clocks go back.
As well as offering a free, heated space, most libraries will again deliver a range of other support. Of those library services that will be taking part in a warm space scheme, 74% will also host entertainment and cultural activities, 70% will provide free hot drinks, and 66% will run advice sessions on topics like household budgeting. Other initiatives include providing free warm clothing and blankets, sanitary products and food banks.
Despite energy prices falling, 79% of respondents expected demand for their warm spaces to be about the same or higher than last year. None expected demand to be lower.
Libraries Connected is a partner of the Warm Welcome Campaign, which supports a network of over 7,000 warm spaces across the UK. Analysis by the Warm Welcome Campaign published in May this year found that more than half a million people accessed warm spaces during the previous winter.
Isobel Hunter, chief executive of Libraries Connected, said:
"With temperatures dropping, and the price of essentials continuing to rise, it is a sad fact that many people will again be wondering how they will heat their homes this winter. Libraries will be there to offer a warm space and a warm welcome – not only to those who are struggling to pay their energy bills, but anyone who’s looking for company, conversation or advice. And that’s on top of all the wonderful things libraries do every single day, for free. Once again our libraries are proving themselves to be a vital community resource.”
David Barclay, Warm Welcome Campaign Director, commented:
“I was genuinely shocked and delighted at just how many libraries got involved in the Warm Welcome Campaign last winter, and how creative they were in serving their communities and providing places of connection and belonging. My hope for this winter is that through engaging in Warm Welcome, libraries up and down the country can demonstrate what a crucial piece of our social infrastructure they truly are and can receive the recognition and support they so richly deserve.”
Survey of heads of library services carried out 9-15 October. Total respondents: 57. See full data tables.