Durham County Council are working alongside the County Durham Community Foundation (CDCF) to support Welcome Spaces (formerly Warm Spaces) for another year by offering funding to the voluntary and community sector to help create a network of spaces where people can receive a warm welcome.
Following the evaluation of last year’s work, the project aims have been broadened to support residents who may be feeling socially isolated and emotionally vulnerable, as well as needing somewhere warm to go through the winter due to the continuing high energy costs and cost of living.
Alongside community groups and organisations, the 39 Durham County Council library buildings will again join the scheme with Family Hubs also involved this year.
Both Durham County Council and CDCF are contributing to the funding, with increased funding of over £280,000 available to support premises with a grant of between £750 and £3000 for their Welcome Space offer. This range and increase will offer spaces flexibility with their offer and is in response to feedback from last year’s scheme.
Each Welcome Space will again be encouraged to signpost those who need it to financial support and energy efficiency advice and will be given leaflets to hand out to people attending.
The online application is available here
Participants will again need to sign up to a charter, setting out a quality standard that they will be expected to deliver, and they will be asked to display a window poster highlighting their involvement in the scheme.
Grant recipients will again be offered training on a range of topics including basic mental health, making every contact count including financial stability and safeguarding, with grants able to cover a range of expenses such as utility bills, volunteer expenses or staff time, equipment and furniture. This year grants can also be used for transport should individuals need help accessing the spaces particularly in rural areas.
Locate will again be the online source for Welcome Spaces information. Key information including opening times, accessibility and any other facilities available, such as the offer of hot drinks or wi-fi, will be highlighted to ensure people can access their nearest space.
Organisations wishing to offer a Welcome Space without accessing the additional funding can email email@example.com to sign up to the charter. Details of these will also be added to Locate.
Residents will be able to access the directory here