At the time of writing this article, it’s -2 degrees outside, and I resemble the Michelin Man with the number of layers I have on.
We’ve had a weekend of travel disruption due to snowfall, and the cold snap will continue to cause chaos for the most of this week.
Despite the postcard-perfect wintry scenes across Tameside, it’s worth remembering how dangerous very cold weather can be. In the middle of a cost of living crisis, and with energy bills soaring, many people will be thinking twice before flicking on the heating. This is worrying, particular for the elderly, young children and those who have health conditions.
The charity National Energy Action estimates that around 8,500 people across England lose their lives every year due to living in cold homes. That is an utter tragedy, and it’s vitally important that people know what support is out there as temperatures continue to plummet.
There are over 20 ‘Warm Hubs’ across Tameside, where those struggling can access a warm space and socialise, work or relax. To find one near you, please visit https://www.tameside.gov.uk/helpinghand/warm-welcome-hub or call Tameside Council on 0161 342 2284.
In the same way as food banks, I wish these warm hubs weren’t necessary. It is incredibly depressing that in 21st Century Britain people are unable to afford to put food on the table or heat their homes. The simple fact is, however, at the moment this community-based support is genuinely saving lives.
I’m beyond grateful for the businesses, churches and libraries who have opened their doors to provide a warm refuge for those facing the cold. There is an awful lot to feel gloomy about at the moment, but Tameside’s community spirit continues to provide a beacon of light in these tough times.
These hubs have a number of facilities, with many offering warm drinks, free or low-priced food, children’s play equipment and more.
So please keep safe this winter and utilise the support available if you need to. These warm hubs are there to be used, so make the most of them. If you are worried about your health, contact your local pharmacist, 111 or your GP, who will all be able to offer advice and support. In an emergency dial 999.
Please also reach out to friends, family and neighbours during this time, and make sure they’re doing okay. Community is such a powerful tool, and we must make the most of it during the cold winter months ahead.