Town leads the way with UK's first 'warm rooms' scheme
- Credit: Ella Wilkinson
An innovative 'warm rooms' project is proving to be a success in a Suffolk town, helping locals tackle the twin threats of rural loneliness and high living costs.
The scheme, being run by Bungay Community Support (BCS), provides free, warm spaces for people to drop in to during the winter months.
It has been set up in response to concerns about people in the town becoming isolated, and also the impact of soaring heating bills.
By offering free, warm spaces in the town for people to spend time in, the project allows them to save money on their heating bills and also guard against loneliness.
A number of cafes and community sites have signed up to provide venues the scheme, which is thought to be among the first of its kind in the UK.
Attendees have the opportunity to meet others and chat over free tea, coffee and biscuits.
There are also a wide range of games, jigsaws and activities for adults and children at the sites.
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Linda Bailey, volunteer and a BCS trustee, said: "Isolation is a huge issue for people after Covid.
"People can't heat their houses up either with energy prices on the increase.
"The service is also popular with new mums in the town but those from across the age ranges are also using our service."
The warm rooms service is unique to Bungay and Mrs Bailey believes more towns should take the initiative to run similar services.
She said: "I would like to think other towns across the country adopt our idea here in Bungay because it is unique to our town.
"But it takes foresight and initiative to get a project like this running.
"We are only running until March 31 but we are already in discussions with one of the local vicars about starting drop-in mornings at St Mary's Church."
Reggie Faram, 65, has been using the warm rooms service since it started at the start of February.
He said: "I live on my own and suffer from isolation and loneliness.
"Over the past two years I've been reflecting on my life and loneliness is a huge issue for me and others.
"It can crush you more than anything. It probably frightens me if I'm honest.
"I just stumbled across the warm rooms by chance when walking past and I've been three times since.
"Popping in for a cup of tea and a chat makes all the difference."
The project is running until March 31.
Where and when are the warm rooms?
Tuesdays: Trinity Church 10-1pm
Wednesdays: Grumpy's Cafe 1-4pm
Thursday: Fisher Theatre 10-3pm
Saturdays: Bungay Library 1:30-4:30pm