Disabled grandmother’s favourite place is ‘warm’ library

Disabled grandmother’s favourite place is ‘warm’ library

A 65-year-old disabled woman who can barely afford to heat her home for more than 90 minutes each day says the warmth and community spirit offered by the Chelmsford library makes it her “favourite place”.

It’s one of several warm banks open across Chelmsford for people like the electric wheelchair-bound grandmother who said she was struggling to pay bills.

The woman, who asked not to be named, said her energy bills have increased by as much as £50 a month – an amount she cannot afford from her payments.

She said she looks at her grocery bills and, most poignantly, because her house isn’t heated properly, she has constant pain in her fingers.

She said: “My heating is basically off. But when my family comes because I have grandchildren, I have to leave the heating on and that costs a lot of money that I put aside for energy. But the rest of the time I have to pack in shifts.”

Aside from libraries, other organizations are also providing a warm space to help residents this winter. This includes churches, mother and child groups and even a number of shops and businesses.

She added: “I come in regularly to sit at a desk and read and study, that sort of thing, but mostly I come here to warm up. The library is basically my favorite place.”

There are a number of options for warm areas in neighborhoods around the city.

During the winter months, the Chelmsford Museum on Moulsham Street is open daily from 10am to 4pm.

Essex libraries invite people to come in and sit down and some have hot drinks on hand. The Warm Welcomes initiative offers residents additional ways to visit to stay warm, get advice and information, and stay connected with others this winter.

Other locations include The Salvation Army on Baddow Road which is open Mondays and Thursdays from 10am to 5pm for a free hot meal and warm and open space. Another is Orchards Café in Great Baddow, open Monday to Friday for complimentary tea, coffee, soup and beans on toast.

Every Thursday Moulsham Lodge Methodist Church has a warm up day for people to stop by and warm up and chat.

Lucy Driver, who runs the fortnightly community tea at Chelmsford Library, says she has noticed an increase in the number of people since the cost of living has started to affect people.

She said: “It’s nice because people make friends and talk. It’s nice to see people coming in and they’re alone and now they’re chatting to each other. There aren’t enough things to make friends these days.

“It’s really important, especially the struggles that everyone is having at the moment.

“Not only is it worrying, it makes people feel quite isolated when they can talk, who are probably in the same boat, and help them.”

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