How to find a 'Warm Space' near you amid rising energy bills

Warm Spaces could be anywhere from a coffee shop to a hairdressers. Credit: Pexels

By ITV News Digital Producer Suzanne Elliott

A hairdresser's and a pub are among places offering people a space to stay warm this winter as part of a new initiative designed to help households facing soaring energy bills.

New website Warm Spaces is a "one stop shop" to guide people to where they might find some warmth this winter in their local community.

Pubs, community centres, church halls and coffee shops are among places that have already signed up, with people able to find their nearest space using the website's interactive map.

The founders of Flint, the group behind Warm Spaces, decided to start the project after being unable to find anywhere to share their own warm bank.

Some of the warm spaces offer free food while others are simply somewhere comfortable and warm to share with others.

Businesses and community centres are being encouraged to sign up to share their warm spaces.

Click here to use the interactive map to find a Warm Space

Warm Spaces' co-founder Jason Baldry.

Co-founder Jason Baldry told ITV News the centres were open to everyone seeking warmth this winter - from desperate people to those working from home, and the warm spaces on offer would reflect people's different needs.

"It's really a broad spectrum - from community centres, the traditional coffee morning, all the way through to places that might expect you to pay, but maybe there's some arrangement where there's a cheap filter coffee option, or there's a period of time during the week or day where you sit there with no obligation to pay. And these places are warm - and probably even warmer by sheer numbers."

Mr Baldry said the group had "already been surprised by some of the places joining" the project.

"We've had a hair salon the other day, who said, 'look just come and be in the space and we'll sell you a tea or coffee'.

"We've had some [places] that just have a few spare seats, we've had a pub sign up the other day, which was great.

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"Every space will offer something different and may have a different stipulation and the website is really just a flag for that location."

Mr Baldry said places are able to be "bold" in the parameters they set - and can set how much or how little they can offer but that key to the project is to "negate the awkwardness of people being judged".

"We're all going to feel this, and I think there's a sense of community-led action and sharing what warmth there is, and let's not all put our boilers on, but let's figure out where we can all be together."

Some local authorities are offering grants for places offering up space as a warm hub.

Councils including Birmingham, Southend, in Essex, Sheffield, in Yorkshire, and several in Nottinghamshire have already started mulling similar plans for either setting up, supporting or highlighting the locations of "warm banks" in the meantime.

Nearly one in four adults plan never to turn their heating on this winter, polling suggests. Credit: PA

The idea is being mooted by more councils across the UK as the cost-of-living crisis intensifies, with the energy price cap rising to £2,500 from October 1 under Liz Truss's plan.

Mr Baldry said there is also an environmental consideration as well as a social one to us all sharing our heating.

"I think it can be a great way of people coming together through a pretty rubbish time, really."

How can people register their warm hub?

You can add your warm space to Warm Space directory through its sign-up page.

The space must be a publicly accessible location - not a private home.

It could be a coffee shop, an unfilled spot in a co-working space, a pub, or your weekly community centre drop-in session.Your local authority may also have guidance on setting up a warm space.