More ‘warm banks’ set up in Barnsley

More ‘warm banks’ set up in Barnsley

THE number of so-called ‘warm banks’ in Barnsley has risen by nearly 50 per cent in the last two weeks – prompting a local MP to blast the Government for its handling of the cost of living crisis.

As of December 8, there were 23 across the county — but currently there are more than 30 for residents.

The rising cost of fuel and basic necessities has led to the emergence of so-called “warm banks” — places like churches and libraries that people can visit when they can’t afford heating.

John Healey, Labor MP for Wentworth and Dearne, said he welcomed the community’s help – but added it “should not be needed in 2022”.

He said: “I would like to thank all the organisations, charities and venues that have reached out to offer their support to people across the county this winter.

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“With food prices and rents soaring, heating bills soaring and taxes rising, I know this is a very difficult time for many.

“But warm banks should not be needed in 2022.

“This is the first time in my 25 years as an MP that this has happened and it clearly shows how this Conservative government has let people down over the past 12 years.

“We’ve had people get in touch with my office and say they had to go somewhere as they just couldn’t afford to leave the heating on and heat their homes.

“People shouldn’t be in that position in the 21st century.

“Labour’s Warm Homes Plan would insulate up to two million homes a year and save pensioners and families up to £1,000 in energy bills.”

Earlier this year, in a general meeting, Lib Dem Couns Richard Denton and Chris Wray proposed the Community Warm Spaces project, which would have given residents a place to go for free heat and reduced energy bills.

Instead, an amendment proposed by Barnsley Council leader Sir Steve Houghton and Coun James Higginbottom was pushed through the meeting.

Council will use the £2.3m from its Budget Support Grant to prioritize those most at risk in the district during the winter period.

Coun Wray, who was instrumental in building a warm bench in his community of Dodworth, said it was a “sad fact” that these spaces were needed – but praised the community spirit.

“I’m amazed at how many places have opened up in Barnsley and are helping to keep people warm,” he told the Chronicle.

“It’s no secret how much I feel for these – and how much I feel for the sad fact that we need them – but it’s a great sign of the community coming together.”

“These are more than just warm banks, they can enable the community to come together, talk and grow.

“It was what I wanted when we were looking at Dodworth months ago and I hope they can deliver now.

“Everyone from the Methodist Church to individual clubs should be proud of the community spirit that they display.”

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