Residents in Kensington and Chelsea can enjoy free activities and a friendly welcome as a network of warm and safe spaces opens to the public this winter as part of the Council’s and Voluntary and Community Sector’s commitment to support residents with the cost of living.
A new interactive map highlights 24 venues open to the public – from Council buildings to community centres and places of worship – where people can drop in to find free community events and activities taking place in warm and safe spaces across the borough this winter.
The map will help residents to easily find spaces close to their homes and across the borough and will also show information about opening times, address details and what activities to expect at each venue. The map will be updated regularly as new spaces and activities are introduced and a directory will also be available.
Councillor Johnny Thalassites, Lead Member for Finance and Customer Delivery, said:
“We know that the rising cost of living is affecting our residents and we want to remind them that they are not alone and there is support available.
“We are supporting warm and welcoming winter spaces across the borough working alongside our Voluntary and Community Sector partners, this includes an interactive map – which will help residents to find a safe space that is close to home. All are welcome to visit the borough’s warm winter spaces and enjoy the activities and refreshments on offer.
"I encourage everyone to also visit our Cost of Living Hub, where there is a host of financial advice and employment support for those who need it.”
The warm winter spaces map is part of the Council’s package of support to help residents with the rising cost of living. Recent figures for Kensington and Chelsea show that there has been a 10 per cent increase in households in poverty, from 7,227 to 7,948. There has also been a 10 per cent increase in households in fuel poverty, from 8,231 to 9,067.
Residents can already access an online cost of living hub where they can find a benefits calculator, get money advice, access employment services and learn if they are eligible for financial support.
On Monday 28 November the Council, working in partnership with the Kensington and Chelsea Social Council held the first warm winter space event at the Venture Centre, which saw members of the community of all ages and backgrounds, join for live music, hot food and refreshments.
Attendees were also able to get financial advice including debt, housing and employment advice and information on staying warm during the colder months. Further events can be accessed on the Winter in the Borough events page and the cost of living hub.
As the winter progresses, the Council will continue to work collaboratively with partners to monitor residents’ changing needs and understand which targeted support packages work best.
The Warm Winter Spaces offer comes alongside a wider package of practical support which includes:
- An £8m fund to help our residents and businesses through this difficult time and to support the ongoing recovery from Covid.
- £2.2m of existing discretionary funding to help voluntary organisations assist vulnerable residents through the Voluntary Sector Support Fund
- £318,000 for the latest tranche of the Household Support Fund.
- One-to-one financial advice which has, to date, resulted in more than £82,000 of unclaimed benefits being claimed.
- Launching a cost of living support hub which is continuously updated with useful information and links
- Running a business rates hardship relief scheme and providing commissioned support through Portobello Business Centre
- Utilising the Department for Education’s Holiday Activities and Food Programme to support young people eligible for free school meals
- Using Local Support Payments to help residents afford food and Discretionary Housing Payments for eligible residents struggling with rent payments
- The Council is also working with the voluntary sector to hold a “state of the borough” session to better understand the scale of the rising cost of living and the response required.