The Hanging Gardens, Llanidloes

Is getting cold getting you down this Winter?

Powys County Council has created a directory of Warm Spaces. It is made up of libraries, community centres, churches and other places, including mental health charities, that are opening their doors to anyone who needs them. This network of Warm Spaces offers support to anyone struggling with the cost of living this winter. Each Warm Space has its own opening hours and facilities. The one thing each has in common – a warm big welcome to all!

We asked some of the people generously sharing their Warm Space with their community to tell us more about how it’s working in their area, and a few PAVO colleagues gave feedback from their visits also.

CARAD – Community Arts Rhayader & District

At CARAD in Rhayader, we decided to run a weekly warm spaces activity day to support those who needed to cut down on their energy costs and risked being in a cold house over winter. We employ a facilitator, funded by Comic Relief, and have a volunteer present so that we can welcome people, have a chat, make a them a cuppa and biscuits or toast and guide activities. We have general activities in the morning and a more organised free workshop in the afternoon. This latter preferably needs booking as we need to make sure we
have enough materials to cover those who come. We chose a day when the library was closed and have also produced a flyer about other warm spaces in Rhayader.

Simply coming down to somewhere with nothing to do isn’t an option as, if you can’t put the heating on, you may not be feeling too good about life. Sitting in a warm room but feeling in the way, lonely or depressed won’t improve that.

Being welcomed to an organised activity makes all the difference. Because any visitor is welcome, you are not signalled out as different for attending. For that reason, we stress the activities rather than the warmth!

We really didn’t know what to expect but find that many of those who come through the doors are facing challenges. These might be around caring, health or other circumstances. There have been many positive benefits. Simply having some company has made a big difference to some, enjoying new activities has very obviously impacted others with a lot of laughter coming from the space and repeat visits. The benefits of those activities – lowering stress, having time out, and feeling accepted and safe (and warm) are also really positive for staff to see.

Catherine Allan, Chair of Trustees, CARAD

Ceri Williams, PAVO Health Promotion Facilitator 
& (inset) Melanie Taylor of Llanidloes Library
Llanidloes Library

Ceri Williams, our new Health Promotion Facilitator (North Powys) at PAVO visited the Warm Space at Llanidloes Library on 11 January. She spoke to Melanie Taylor who has worked there for about 7 years. The library staff welcome anyone who wants to use the Warm Space.

The library is located in the former town museum at the side of the Town Hall. There is a children’s area and computers are available to use free of charge. Melanie said “this space is nothing new, we have been offering a warm environment for many years. We welcome new users to the library.”

Hanging Gardens, Llanidloes

The following week Ceri visited the Hanging Gardens in Llanidloes (photo at top of post):

I walked in to laughter and went to talk to three adults playing board games. They told me: “It’s a fantastic environment – such a welcoming space. All the crafts and plants growing. It’s what we had before everyone owned everything. Kevin and Fran (of The Wilderness Trust) had a vision and worked 12 hours a day to make it happen.”

Local childminder Sammy shares an allotment plot with other childminders which enables them to feed their charges fresh veg (funded by the Co-op). She attends the Thursday singing sessions with her young charges.

Louise Evans, who works there, mentioned the Art therapy group and the Celf Able group which is a mobile art group that comes once a month.

All the activities are on the Hanging Gardens website.

Knighton & District Community Centre

At The KDCC Hub we have two sessions per week which are dedicated to offering ‘Warm Spaces & more’. The sessions are available on Tuesday 10 – 1pm & Thursday 10 – 2pm, both have access to the Cafe, our Advice from the Hub service, volunteer support, television, radio and reading material.

On a Tuesday the Cafe offers a hot drink and a piece of homemade cake at £1; on Thursday we offer hot drinks from 10 – 12pm free of charge, and from 12pm we have soup, sandwiches and homemade cake which are all free.

At the Tuesday Warm Space Cafe we also have with us staff from other organisations, such as POBL, Powys Housing and an Energy Efficient Advisor funded through Citizens Advice. The third Tuesday of the month RNID Hear to Help hold their hearing aid repair clinic at the centre 10 – 12pm (no appointment needed) and on the 4th Tuesday Credu’s Leanne has a carers’ support coffee morning in the Cafe.

Thursdays we welcome Hayley Lloyd, our PAVO Community Connector, to the building. Hayley has a drop-in from 10 – 12.30pm, we also have District Nurses in the Reynolds Room offering a Leg Clinic 9.30 – 12pm.

Alongside all the Community Centre Hub has to offer customers also have access to the Library and our new Digital Hub project. The Library is open on Tuesdays from 10.30 – 1pm and 2 – 5pm; Thursdays 10.30 – 1pm; 2 – 6pm. Booking is essential for the Digital Hub which is open on Tuesdays 9 – 5pm & Thursdays 9 – 6pm.

A recent customer survey highlighted that our customers very much enjoy coming to both of our Warm Space activities, and for many different reasons. Some of our older single attendees, who have limited contact with others, come so as to have the opportunity to socialise either with each other or our happy and friendly volunteers and find the human contact they engage with both uplifting and refreshing. Our younger customers come so as to have a change of scenery, and meet up with people of their age and circumstances (i.e. being mums), most come as they are finding it challenging “to make ends meet” so not having to worry about warming their home a couple of times a week takes immense pressure off them, and the welcome addition of either reduced Cafe prices or free lunch is more than an incentive in these hard times.

All customers are very positive about all of the other services/activities we offer, and really appreciate the fact that help, support and advice is available from services like The Advice from the Hub or PAVO Community Connectors. One very frequent comment is that people really value the Warm Space sessions, and are very keen for them to continue as all users find the services invaluable and of vital importance to their wellbeing.

Annie England, KDCC Hub Coordinator

Mid Wales Arts

Mid Wales Arts centre has a large Artshed that has been completely rebuilt for exhibitions and events. It is well insulated and has underfloor ground source heating, which means it’s lovely and warm and not harming the environment.

We have set up an area of the shed as a ‘Warm Space’ with a table, chairs, books, newspapers, drawing materials and of course tea, coffee and a kettle.

It’s an inspiring and uplifting place to be, you can enjoy the art on the walls and the wonderful views, garden, farm, peacocks and you never know who you might meet.

It’s a good place for groups who wish to take part in an activity …knitting, book clubs, philosophy, writing etc.

The shed has wifi and charging points. There is a cafe on site.

The space is open from 10 – 4 Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and you are most welcome. Just come along and check in at the barn cafe. Any queries: or tel: 01686 688369.

The space is much appreciated. ‘It’s a space where you can enjoy the art and the warmth, it’s lovely and friendly.’

Today we have had quite a few visitors and they have been inspired to start a ‘Tai Chi’ Weekly club starting on Wednesday 1 February, 12 – 1pm followed by a new discussion group ‘Artspeak’ 2 – 4pm where members can focus on selected artworks from the current exhibition.

Cathy Knapp, Creative Director

Councillors Carol Robinson and Julie Arnold with Rotarian, Tony Harvey, waiting to ‘warmly’ welcome members of
Welshpool Community to join them at the Welshpool Winter Warm Hub

Welshpool Town Hall Assembly Rooms

Pauline Chapman-Young, the PAVO Community Connector covering Welshpool and Llanfair Caereinion, called in to this Warm Space in Welshpool recently, and provided the following feedback:

The Warm Space has much more footfall now as its offers of free ‘light lunches’ have increased the interest from attendees. It is hard to judge the numbers as the hall is huge and people seem to drop in rather than stay all day.

Local Town Councillors are very supportive and are actually cooking some of the food and collecting donated food themselves. The councillors, including Nick Howells, are also working hard to bring in funding to enable them to keep the Warm Space going and have a ‘healthy float’ for additional supplies.

Printed material (leaflets) is available to offer help and support from many organisations including Community Connectors’ support. Volunteers from the community are visible and engaging with visitors. Overall there is a good vibe.

We hope you are keeping warm this winter. Let us know what you think about the Warm Spaces scheme in Powys in the comments below – we love to hear from you!

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