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Find warm spaces in Oxford this winter

oxford city council tackles housing crsis

Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC BY-SA 3.0

Oxford City Council has been working with community groups to support warm spaces across the city and develop an interactive map of where to find a warm welcome this winter.

The council is offering some of its community centres, and leisure centres, through its leisure provider Fusion Lifestyle, as part of a network of places where residents can join in activities or just drop in to relax and have a chat. The council’s Museum of Oxford is also part of the warm spaces network with its free activities and exhibitions. 

The Council is also working with community groups who want to support their community with a warm space. An online map allows residents to look for their nearest place and find what’s on offer www.oxford.gov.uk/warmspaces

Learning from Gateshead Council, which provided warm spaces last winter, Oxford plans to include some low-cost venues in its warm spaces so that people can find affordable places to connect to wifi or enjoy an affordable hot meal, as well as the free spaces that provide a welcome, hot drinks and activities. There are also many free venues, including spaces to sit, organised activities and child-friendly spaces.

The council is putting a call out for more community organisations, activity organisers or businesses that offer free and low-cost activities and spaces, to get in touch and get on the map. Registering on the map allows the council to update organisations on any new support and funding on offer. To register interest, email Leanne Cooper lcooper@oxford.gov.uk  

Councillor Shaista Aziz, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Communities and Culture, said

“We’ve had a brilliant response from community groups and partner organisations who want to be part of helping ease the cost of living this winter. We are all feeling the impact of the rise in food and fuel costs, our warm spaces are place to have a chat, find out what else is going on in your area, as well as providing a cosy, safe and warm space people can enjoy.”

“We must see more urgent action from government to support people with the extraordinary cost of living rises. We need these warm spaces this winter, but long-term people need to be able to afford to heat their homes and also be able to eat and not face stigma, anxiety and fear as this crisis deepens.”

Risinghurst community warm space said:

“We’ve created a living room space where people can come and enjoy a relaxed atmosphere, have a chat and a hot drink, and bring their children to the play corner. The response we’ve had is great, you can see what a difference it makes just to sit somewhere cosy and chat to other people, and the kids are busy and happy so the adults can relax. We’ve also heard from the community that they’re interested in organised activities, so we’re looking at some healthy cooking sessions and hot meals.”

Earlier this month, Oxfordshire County Council and Oxfordshire Community Foundation launched a new  £100,000 energy fund to help community groups with their energy bills to ensure venues can stay open. The fund is open until 12noon on 21 November 2022.

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