The UK’s Best Free Warm Space to Visit This Winter
There’s nothing better than putting on socks still warm from the radiator. Or slipping into a jumper fresh from the tumble dryer. But did you know that more and more families are struggling to afford to heat their homes? With the rising cost of energy and the cost of living, they are, instead, turning the thermostat down, opting to heat just one functional room, or turning off utilities altogether to reduce bills.
But people still need to keep warm. So charities and communities around the UK have started the Warm Welcome Spaces initiative – Places where the residents of an area can congregate to keep warm together and socialise. You’ll find libraries, churches, cafes, and community centres opening their doors and creating a warm and welcoming space for those who need it.
North Yorkshire is the Council Region with the Most Warm Spaces
First, we looked at the locations with the most Warm Spaces to offer. From community centres to libraries, cafés to churches, they’re all opening their doors and welcoming those who need to warm up, as well as offering other services such as craft events, reading time with toddlers, and even financial advice. It’s thought that half a million people visited Warm Spaces in the winter of 2022/2023 when fuel prices were at an all-time high.
Here are the locations with the most Warm Spaces to visit:
The location with the most Warm Spaces is North Yorkshire. Glusburn Community & Arts Centre is just one of the 56 different warm spaces in the region. It offers a drop-in community cafe with free art activities run by Pioneer Projects. It’s a warm, welcoming, and friendly space with access to mental health support workers if needed.
Bolton boasts 52 spaces where people can go to warm up, including Bromley Cross Library. This family-friendly space offers free books, free Wi-Fi, free computer access, and regular events and activities. They also offer refreshments such as tea, coffee and squash. Their opening times are a bit sporadic, so make sure to check their website before.
Heading south, you can find 46 different Warm Spaces in the Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole areas of Dorset. Bournemouth Library, located in the town centre, not only offers free WiFi and computer access, it’s also connected to a cafe. The library is also accessible via lifts and hosts regular events such as reading groups and family events.
The Best Warm Spaces for Families by Council Region
While Warm Spaces might not solve the cost of living crisis, they can play a valuable role in helping people through a difficult winter, particularly for families. Research suggests that children living in cold homes are more likely to develop chest and breathing problems, so making sure there are Warm Spaces around can keep them healthy, not to mention offer peace of mind to their parents.
Because of this, we looked into the areas with the best family-friendly Warm Spaces by unveiling whether they had accessible toilets, were child-friendly, had parking, and offered food or drinks.
The best area to find Warm Spaces is the Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole (BCP) districts in Dorset. Becky’s Community Café at St Joseph’s Church in Christchurch is one of the 9 best places to go with families. The opening times are quite limited – only 11:30-13:30 on a Thursday, but they offer a free lunch of soup, sandwiches, and cake, as well as toys, crafts, and table tennis. You can also charge your devices here, get free WiFi access, and they have accessible toilets.
Heading a little further north, Bolton also plays host to 9 excellent, family-friendly spaces. Visit the Community Hub on Aldred Street to find a comfortable space to warm up. Offering hot drinks and refreshments, board games, crafts, and a toddler area, this space is also an excellent place to visit for debt advice if you need it. The only downside is the short opening times – 10:30-14:30 on Tuesdays.
The Best Warm Spaces for Workers by Council Region
Since the Covid-19 pandemic, many people continue to work from home. However, if you’re not able to afford to heat your home, despite working full-time, you need a place to go that offers you a warm place to focus. There are many Warm Spaces that offer desks and tables for workers, as well as computer access, copying and printing services, and free WiFi. These allow you to reduce your bills and stay warm while still earning an income.
The best place for workers in the UK is the borough of Kirklees near Leeds. You’ll find 12 spaces that are ideal for working in this area, including the Cleckheaton Library. This library offers plenty of workspaces, including tables, comfortable chairs, and desks. They also have free WiFi, charging facilities, and computer access, alongside offering refreshments. Sit and study, enjoy a new book, or get some work done in the warm.
You’ll find 10 different warm working spaces in the London borough of Havering. Rainham Library is one of the best spots to visit, with comfortable working areas, coworking desks, free WiFi, and many more facilities. It has accessible toilets and child-friendly areas, and although there’s no parking, it is easily accessed via the nearby train station.
The Best Warm Spaces for Socialising by Council Region
Warm Spaces aren’t just valuable for escaping the cold, they also offer socialisation aspects. This is essential for many vulnerable people, such as the elderly, as it helps to minimise loneliness and social isolation.
The City of Bristol was found to be the best place to get social, with 4 of its 16 Warm Welcome locations being rated the best for socialising. The Friends of Hillfields Library is one of these locations. It hosts weekly gatherings on a Monday and a Friday, offering food and refreshments, as well as activities and child-friendly services. The Friday gatherings are focused on the over 60’s, while Mondays are available for anyone who needs a place to work or spend some social time with other members of their community.
If you live in North Somerset, you’re also in luck, as it’s the second-best place for social Warm Spaces. Of its 10 total Warm Spaces, North Somerset has 3 that are rated as being great for socialising. The Cafe@Keedwell is one of these spaces. Pop in on a Wednesday between 10:00 and 12:00 for a cuppa and a chat with lots of books, games, and puzzles available.
It’s clear that the Warm Welcome Spaces serve an important purpose. Making sure that families and individuals have places to go to get out of the cold and socialise with other members of their community helps them make it through difficult winters, keep bills down, and still enable them to work. Visit Warm Welcome Spaces to learn more about the important work that this initiative is doing.
The Underfloor Heating Store analysed Warm Welcome to identify over 2,500 warm spaces in the UK's local council areas and their respective amenities as of December 2023. The best overall area was determined by the council area with the highest number of warm spaces.