Almost two dozen warm banks are taking in people in Glasgow who cannot afford to heat their homes, new figures show.
The figures come as a leading anti-poverty charity cautions that hundreds of thousands of people on low incomes are at risk during the extreme low temperatures hitting the UK.
The soaring cost of fuel and basic essentials has led to the rise of so-called ‘warm banks’ – locations such as churches and libraries which people can visit if they are struggling to afford heating.
Warm Welcome, a campaign group, has compiled a map of warm spaces across the UK – with 20 open in Glasgow as of December 1, with more having opened from mid-October.
The charity said nearly 2,700 warm banks were open across the country at this time, including 142 in Scotland.
They come in various shapes and sizes, and may provide other support – such as food, hot drinks, and internet access.
The charity says that more spaces are opening every day across the country, and that it is working hard to register new organisations that are helping out – meaning that the real figure could be higher.
David Barclay, manager of the Warm Welcome campaign, called it “unacceptable” that people are being forced to decide whether to heat their homes or eat.
But he said that the response from civil society has provided “cause for hope” – with the number of warm spaces rising significantly from just 350 at the start of October.
Mr Barclay added that warm banks could also have a role in the fight against loneliness in the UK, providing vulnerable people with community support. The figures come as a cold snap grips the UK.
The UK Health Security Agency has issued a cold weather alert from Wednesday, December 7 to Monday, December 12, saying that those at risk should heat their most-used rooms to at least 18 degrees, wear extra layers, and have plenty of hot food and drinks to keep warm.
But a new report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, an anti-poverty charity, estimates that more than 700,000 people on low incomes across the UK cannot afford these necessities.
Rachelle Earwaker, a senior economist at the charity, said that vulnerable people were having to “wager their financial health against their wellbeing” during periods of dangerously cold weather.
She urged the Government to “help everyone who needs it this winter”, cautioning that energy bills are still almost double what they were at this point last year – even with the Government’s energy price cap.
A spokesperson for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “We know the pressures people are facing with rising costs, which is why we have continually taken action to help households by phasing in £37 billion worth of support.
“This includes £1,200 to help pay their bills and the two-year Energy Price Guarantee, that will save a typical household £1,000 annually.”
Where are the warm banks in Glasgow?
Glasgow City Council, in partnership with Glasgow Life, has a list of council and community venues which have been allocated as warm ‘welcome spaces’ across the city.
Bailie Annette Christie, chair of Glasgow Life and city convener for Culture, Sport and International Relations said: “Everyone will be made welcome in our venues. These are challenging times but by joining forces and strengthening community links, we will get through this together.”
Glasgow’s warm banks are located in:
- Bridgeton Library - open 9am-5pm
- Barlanark Community Centre - 8am–8:30pm
- Barmulloch Residents Centre - 9am-9pm
- Castlemilk Community Centre - 8am-9pm
- Cranhill Community Centre - 9.30am-3.30pm
- Drumchapel Library - 10am-5pm
- Easterhouse Library @ The Bridge - 10am-5pm
- Finns Place - 9.30am-5pm
- Govanhill Community Centre - 7.30am-8pm/9pm
- Knightswood Cross / Knightswood Baptist Church - every Friday 11am-2pm - Free tea/coffee, rolls and soup.
- Kingsway Community Connections - 9am-5pm
- Milton Library - 10am-5pm
- Mitchell Library - 9am-8pm
- Netherton Community Centre - 9.30am-3.30pm
- Queens Cross Housing Association - running a number of community activities for local citizens during a winter programme running from 1 December - 31 March at The Courtyard Pantry. They will offer free access to IT, family activities and a tea/coffee - open Mon - Fri 9.30am - 3pm
- Parkhead Nazarene - Coffee and Company - open Thursday evenings between 6pm and 8pm
- Partick Library - 10am-5pm
- Penilee Community Centre - 9am-9pm
- Pollok Community Centre - 9am-9pm
- Pollokshaws Library - 10am-5pm
- Possilpoint Community Centre - 9am-9pm
- Ruchill Golf Pavilion -
- Shettleston Library - 10am-5pm
- St Aloysius Church at the Ogilvie Centre - Wednesday evenings, 5-8pm
- St Francis Centre - 9am-9pm
- The Charter (Tollcross Road) - Winter Warmer lunch cafe on Mondays between 12.30pm and 4pm.
- Woodside Library - 10am-5pm
- Yoker Community Campus - 9am-4.30pm
Anyone experiencing any difficulties and in need of advice and guidance on a range of issues can also contact Glasgow Helps on 0141 276 1185 or at Glasgow Helps.
Up to date opening times and more information can be found on the Glasgow Life website and Glasgow City Council website.