By Love Hackney
A 'LIFESAVER' is how a Hackney Council-funded warm space in Frampton Park has been described by some of those benefiting from the support it is providing.
The cost of Iiving crisis is putting a massive strain on the budget of households across the borough with the price of everyday items -including electricity, heating, and food - rising.
The warm space - operated by youth, family and community support charity - Hackney Quest, at the Frampton Park Baptist Church, is one of 14 that received grants from a £40,000 funding pot provided by the Council's Resident Participation Team. This funding - running alongside the £5 million package of support already put in place this winter by the Council - provides people with a safe and warm place to visit while saving money by not having to heat their own homes.
The 14 new warm spaces supplement the Council-run spaces in libraries and in the Britannia leisure centre, which have been running since November.
Valerie Baysan, 70, from the Gascoyne 2 Estate, has visited the Frampton Park warm space a number of times. She said: "It's a lifesaver. The cost of living is ridiculous with your food and bills going up. Everything is going up and up and up. At one stage, I couldn't afford to pay my bills. The space is a really good idea because you meet people and have fun while saving on heating bills at home."
Mary Tab, 62, of south Hackney agrees. She said: "It's been pretty grim with the snow and everything so to come here is fantastic. I really welcome the warm space - I can get a hot drink here, sometimes a meal."
The warm space now forms part of the community offering the charity, which has been running for around 34 years, hosted at the church on a Monday.
Paula Shaw, who volunteers at the warm space, said: "Those who come here on a Monday can take part in exercises provided by the Council's New Age Games, then have lunch, after which we provide the warm space. It's like a day out and they get to know everybody.
"At the first warm space three ladies ended up sharing their experiences of losing their partners as we talked about bereavement. While there are some other organisations they could be going to, they felt comfortable here to talk about whatever their issues were."
Volunteer manager, Marisa Linihan, and project lead and hardship support officer, Lucy Bradley, help run the warm space. While people are at the space they also take the time to talk to them about benefits they are entitled to and other support available.
Lucy said: "There are people who were doing OK previously who are now really struggling. There are also residents who were struggling before who are desperately struggling now. There has been a real push down effect. The warm space is about keeping people warm and giving them a bit of support and social interaction. Otherwise, they would be at home deliberating about putting the heating on, until the cold forces them to, and then they are left worrying about the bills. The funding from the Council is enabling us to pay for our own heating, lighting, staff, and volunteer time, activities, teas and coffees needed for the warm space."
The support is certainly appreciated by Hackney Downs resident, Carmen Cotter, who said: "Thank you Hackney, I love Hackney. It's a good thing they are doing this for us elderly people in the borough."
The Hackney Quest warm space is open at Frampton Park Baptist Church, Frampton Park Road, on Mondays between 1.30-4pm and is for residents of all ages.