Waltham Forest opens “warm spaces” for struggling residents during winter

More than 40 “welcoming, safe and inclusive” spaces for struggling residents have opened around the borough this winter.

As London braces itself for sub-zero overnight temperatures, a network of churches, hall, libraries and community kitchens have opened their doors to the public.

In addition to the “community living rooms”, Waltham Forest Council has also opened “four community kitchens” in St James Street, Leyton and Leytonstone.

Speaking at Lea Bridge Library, council leader Grace Williams urged residents who are struggling with heating or feeling lonely to “come and say hello”.

She said: “We want people to feel at home, we know that people are struggling with heating their homes, getting access to support or feeling lonely and want people to feel that there are these spaces to use as they like.

“It’s not just about warmth, people do need to be warm but also happy as well.”

Part of the newly refurbished library in Lea Bridge has been repurposed as a ‘community living room’ with sofas, beanbags, space for children to play and a television.

Free tea or coffee is available “no questions asked”, although those who want to support someone else can “pay forward” a hot drink for someone else.

The public can also look for support through the borough’s libraries, as well as use them as a place to study, entertain children or recharge.

Cllr Williams said the winter spaces network has been formed in collaboration with the borough’s charity and voluntary sector, who have been offered council funding.

For more details on the winter spaces network and how to access cost-of-living support, go to: https://www.walthamforest.gov.uk/get-involved/winter-spaces-network

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Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter