Community 'warm space' in Ellesmere Port providing a lifeline for many

  • Video Report by Granada Reports Correspondent Anna Youssef

The cost of living is increasing and having an impact on most people's lives across the North West.

As people strive to save money and continue to heat their home more places are offering a safe refuge.

People's Pantry in Ellesmere Port is now a designated 'warm space' and is seeing more and more people making the most of their facilities.

Pensioners at the centre are knitting blankets to avoid turning on their boilers, and keeping a very close eye on their smart meters.

Pauline is part of the 'knit and natter' group and says: "I can tell you exactly how much I use all day long. How much extra.

"I use extra on Friday because I get my hair done so I have to shower then and I have to wash my hair and that puts it up another 20p.

"I know all these sad little details and I'm 79. Do I really need to be watching my meter every minute of the day?"

Linda Harris is a regular is another member of the group, she is 75, a widow and survives solely on her state pension.

She says: "The other day I got my boiler serviced and I had to have the heating on for that and usually it's about 50p a day but it was over £2 and that was just for an hour.

"It made me feel scared because I'm thinking I hope it's not a cold winter."

The 'knit and natter' group is a lifeline for many pensioners in Ellesmere Port. Credit: ITV News

Jasmine Wells has two young children and a partner with a full-time job.

She describes herself as a stay at home mum but these days she tries to avoid staying at home as much as possible.

"I have to go out. I have to go out for the fact of saving the electric and gas", she explains.

"You get heating, tea and coffee, saving your electric at home. You are not putting it on at home."

The centre's a designated warm space or heat hub that offers shelter for people struggling to heat their homes.

The kitchen's run by volunteers serving up hearty low cost  breakfasts or free hot drinks.

Sue Thornton worked in catering until she was forced to give up her job due to ill health.

Staff here have helped her through some difficult times, she says this is her way of giving back.

"Everybody is going to need a place like this. Even if it's just to come and sit somewhere warm and you can have a cup of tea, a piece of toast and a chat.

"You just need more people to be around and make you feel like you're worth something instead of nothing"

Emily Albino says: "You see some that get lots of benefits and then you get the likes of me and Sue that are on basic universal credit and we can't survive on the basic universal credit, not a hope, so this place is going to be a life saver for me so I know I can come here and sit and get warm."

Tracey Anelay- Jones is Chair of the People's Pantry and says: "We know they can't afford the heating on when people come in you will see they will  have layers on.

"We are knitting blankets at the moment just to keep warm."

The centre is offering a lifeline to the community and a refuge out of the cold when the cost of heating is just too high.

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