Surrey Community Action is researching a new project idea called Warm Hubs. Warm Hubs aim to support people who may be at risk of fuel poverty or may be feeling lonely or isolated.

A Warm Hub can be any community building and will provide a warm and friendly environment for people to socialise over refreshments and take part in activities. The Hub can provide information and support to help people stay warm at home, learn how to heat their homes more efficiently and reduce their energy bills, as well as find out about other local support and local services.

Community Action Northumberland is another voluntary, faith and community sector organisation which already has a developed Warm Hub system. Community Action Northumberland is focused on supporting and helping to sustain rural communities.

Norman Hooks helps run Stocksfield Warm Hub which was one of the first to be signed up to the Northumberland scheme. He advises: “It’s become a feature of our members’ lives; they look forward to it every week.

“Volunteers are key. They are the most important part of our success. You’ve got to look after them, make sure they’re valued, and listen to concerns. If you lose your volunteers, you’ll close. Don’t start out till you’re certain you’ve got enough volunteers to deliver what you want to do as two or three people can’t run this.”

Surrey Community Action’s initial aim is to find out the views of local people and to establish whether a local Warm Hub would be of benefit. The first step in building a picture of what is happening locally is an online survey to gather opinions. You can take part here. Further developments are planned for later this year.