A network of venues will be made available this winter to keep residents in Stafford Borough warm as the cold weather moves in.  

Stafford Borough Council is working with Midlands Partnership Foundation Trust to create a series of ‘Warm Spaces’ that would see village halls, churches, and community centres open as friendly, inviting places to help local people facing the cost-of-living crisis. 

Potential venues will be given financial support towards some of their costs – which is being funded by Midlands Partnership Foundation Trust (MPFT) – and may also offer warm food and drink. 

The target is for the ‘Warm Spaces’ to be open for around two hours at lunchtime for visitors on at least three days a week between mid-October and end of March. 

Councillor Jeremy Pert, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Communities and Health at the borough council, said: “These would be safe, heated spaces, that would offer people a friendly welcome within their local communities with the opportunity of having something warm to eat and drink.  

“People across our borough – as well as nation-wide – are facing tough decisions because of the cost-of-living crisis. We know that one of those decisions for many of our residents and families is around eating healthily or heating. 

“Our warm spaces scheme is one of the initiatives that we have launched to help those in this difficult position – providing them with a warm place, company within their own community and people to talk to.”  

Upkar Jheeta, Head of Primary Care Development & MH Programme Lead (South Staffordshire) at MPFT, said: “We know that many people are feeling the strain as the cost of living continues to increase and individuals with mental health problems are nearly twice as likely as those without to say they have felt unable to cope due to the rising cost of living, this combined with the considerable pressure over the winter period as demand for NHS services tends to increase significantly puts our most vulnerable communities at risk.” 

The local authority has written to parish councils and community organisations across the area asking if they would like to join the project. There will also be funding to support community transport schemes to enable people to get to the warm hubs as well. 

Along with a network of community ‘warm spaces,’ it is planned to have one or two larger hubs within Stafford, which can help offer support for longer during the week or where there may not be anything in someone’s direct vicinity. 

Councillor Pert continued: “We want these places to be easily accessible for as many people as we can – whether that be a short walk or via bus, or with the help of volunteer community transport and would welcome anyone not already actively engaged in a conversation to come forward and talk to us, so that they can be included in the building of this valuable support network for our communities this winter.” 

Any group interested in taking part in the warmer spaces scheme should contact [email protected]