Warm spaces in Epping Forest are opening their doors to people struggling to heat their homes this winter.

Venues will be made available from this week through winter as Warm Places for anyone to freely sit in and be comfortable.

Epping Forest Community Hub already opened its doors on Monday (October 24) to provide a free, safe, warm, and comfortable space for those who need it throughout winter as the cost of living crisis deepens.

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All buildings involved as Warm Places sites will be open to the public by Saturday October 29.

Epping Forest District Council has said many of the venues are offering refreshments - with some offering hot food - and activities such as board games and Wifi.

Councillor Aniket Patel, who is responsible for wellbeing and community, said: “The increase in energy bills for many households is resulting in people feeling extra pressure to heat their homes this winter.

“I’m pleased that Warm Places are being set up across the Epping Forest district area to support our residents during the colder months.”

Essex County Council is also offering a £100,000 Community Winter Warmth and Welcome Spaces fund, with grants of up to £1,000 for organisations to create new spaces and activities, or extend their existing services.

Essex Council deputy leader Louise McKinlay said: “We know people across the country are struggling at the moment and helping tackle the cost of living crisis is a key priority for Essex County Council.

“This might be by opening up somewhere warm for people to go this winter or offering activities for them to enjoy inside a safe and welcoming space.”

Most warm spaces announced for Epping Forest will be provided in libraries and churches.

Sites around the district include: Abridge Evangelical Church, Buckhurst Hill Library, Chigwell Library, Limes Farm Community Café, and North Weald Library.

Some towns will have a choice of spaces made available.

In Epping: Epping Civic Hub, Epping Library, and Epping Sports Centre.

In Loughton: Debden Library, Loughton Library, St Mary’s Church, St Michael’s Church, and Trinity Methodist Church.

In Ongar: Chipping Ongar Library, St James’ Church, and Ongar Sports Centre.

In Waltham Abbey: The Abby Church, Epping Forest District Museum Community Café, Waltham Abbey Library, and Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre.