Cost of living crisis: ‘Warm hubs’ get go-ahead in Flintshire
Rory Sheehan, Local Democracy Reporter
Plans to create ‘warm hubs’ to help with the cost of living crisis across Flintshire have been approved.
The authority’s cabinet has backed the efforts of its staff who have been putting plans in place to help support the most vulnerable through the winter ‘cost of living’ crisis.
These hubs will set up in community centres and sheltered accommodation across the county, operating from November to March next year.
Holywell West Cllr Paul Johnson (Lab), Cabinet Member for Finance, Inclusion, Resilient Communities, presented a report to fellow cabinet members on the proposals.
He stressed that they had been in the pipeline for some time and staff had worked for months to get them ready.
“These aren’t measures of support for the ‘cost of living crisis’ coming but for the one that is here already”, Cllr Johnson said.
“The work put in to get these hubs in place over the summer has been immense.”
He added: “For too many people in this county disposable income is an aspiration and not a fact.
“We care about the people most in need. This is a work in progress, not a full stop.”
Flintshire Council Chief Executive Neal Cockerton added: “I’m incredibly proud but incredibly sad that we’re having to do this as well.”
Mr Cockerton said the efforts to rally round and help people in the community felt like a “regeneration” of the spirit in which people came together during Covid, but questioned why they were having to do this in the 21st century.
Along with the hubs, a ‘well fed’ shop being set up in Shotton, to sell affordable and healthy ‘grab and go’ food, ready meals and slow cooker bags are also being created.
Other measures include developing and promoting the ‘meals on wheels’ service, increasing the ‘well fed’ mobile shop in rural areas, and continuing with free fruit in Flintshire’s nine high schools.
The officers’ report presented to members of the cabinet outlined the reasons why the authority is taking these measures.
It stated: “The recent increase in the cost of living at a time when a combination of factors are impacting on communities, driving them further into poverty and creating social needs that have now become more of an issue post pandemic.
“Residents fear they will not be able to afford to buy food and pay their energy bills this year. One in four older people are known to struggle with rising fuel prices, food poverty and isolation.
“To help ease the pressure of those affected we propose to open the community centres/rooms within the sheltered accommodation schemes, November 2022 to March 2023, for Local Authority tenants in those schemes.
“This will initially be targeted to the residents within the schemes and we will look to expand this to the wider community by working with other organisations and centres to ensure as wide a coverage as possible.”
The measures were unanimously approved by the cabinet.
Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Ian Roberts, said: “Although it’s incredible that in this day and age we are having to consider opening warm hubs, the fact is that with the current cost of living crisis, they have become a necessity.
“Flintshire takes its responsibilities extremely seriously and we will continue to support our most vulnerable residents during these unprecedented times.
“The warm hubs are an extension of work which took hold during the pandemic and which has continued since with the introduction of support hubs in Shotton and Holywell – recently recognised by another local authority as a great example of how to support and advise residents.”
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