A cost-of-living initiative to provide a warm space where people can meet for a hot drink and socialise, has been backed with funding from a West Suffolk councillor.
Suffolk Libraries is offering all of its sites as warm spaces this winter under the banner of its “Be Kind in Kind” campaign.
In Bury St Edmunds it has already handed out knitted hats and coats and close to 1,200 free hot drinks since November, thanks to donations from the public, East of England Co-op and Paddy and Scott’s.
The town library has had further support from West Suffolk councillor Julia Wakelam who has given £507 from her locality budget to support its campaign work including money for a Kindness Rack allowing people to pick up donated clothes, a mini fridge and supplies to enable the library to give away more free hot drinks.
Gill Turner, assistant manager at Bury Library, said: “We have one customer who has trouble with his joints and circulation. It has been made worse from the long-term effects of Covid-19 and he has really been struggling with the cold weather, so he often comes into the library to warm up with a hot drink. We also have some regular library users who sit alone in the study area have taken a break together in the warm space to have a cuppa and a chat, so the initiative is helping to tackle isolation and helping people to make connections.
“We are very grateful to councillor Wakelam for the locality funding which will enhance the vital services we are providing to local people who are affected by the cost-of-living. It’s fantastic to see people coming together to help each other in these challenging times and we’re doing our bit to help.”
Councillor Wakelam, who represents the Abbeygate Ward, said: “The increased cost-of-living and higher energy bills this winter are impacting on residents everywhere. Keeping warm is so important for people’s health, particularly for elderly or vulnerable people. Cold impacts not just their joints and circulation but also the respiratory system making coping with the coughs and colds common at this time of the year, much worse.
“Being able to meet up and socialise also has huge benefits for people’s health and wellbeing. The library is one of the many community spaces that are welcoming people in and encouraging them to take part in social activities and keep warm. I am pleased to be able support this important work.”