A wave of community ‘Warm Spots’ are appearing across Cumbria as energy bills skyrocket.

Set up in village halls, community centres, churches, and parish rooms, these Warm Spots provide people with a place to escape the cold, socialise and save money.

These centres, backed by Cumbria Community Foundation and Westmorland & Furness Council, have awarded more than £7,000 to 14 charitable community organisations.

Dave Morrison, development worker at Barrow Community, said: "We heard about a gentleman who was sleeping in his car overnight because it was cheaper to heat."

In Staveley, the community hall serves as a refuge on Tuesdays and Thursdays for elderly residents struggling with loneliness over the winter months.

The Westmorland Gazette: Warm Spots are set up in village halls, community centres, churches, and parish rooms

It provides a warm space for residents to connect over hot drinks and games.

This year, an additional £500 of funding has enabled the venue to expand its service, attracting more people.

Samuel James Boyd Gilmore, a volunteer, said: "This year, we've attracted some new folks as well as folk with disabilities who are even more isolated at home."

In Barrow, non-profit organisation Friends of Bram has used a £500 grant from the Warm Spots Fund to extend services to vulnerable community members.

They distribute food parcels and provide access to essential items each week in a warm and non-judgmental environment.

Mr Morrison said: "They come down for a chat and to talk over their issues. They’re finding that useful as it is. Many simply enjoy coming for a hot drink and coming into a warm space while they don't have to heat their own homes.

“We found through conversations that some people were really struggling with the cost of living."

Jenny Benson, director of programmes and partnerships at Cumbria Community Foundation, said the Warm Spots Fund has been important in enabling community venues to open their doors to local people so they can escape the cold and meet and chat while saving on their heating bills at home.

She added: "The cost of living and high energy prices are really making things tough for many Cumbrians.

"The Warm Spots are a critical lifeline for our communities during difficult times."

Applications to the Warm Spots Fund are ongoing and groups should hear the outcome of their application within 10 working days.

To apply for funding, visit http://tinyurl.com/yck54xrm or contact Tracy Cheesbrough via tracy@cumbriafoundation.org or on 01900 825760.