Newry, Mourne and Down District Council is offering some of its public buildings as warm shelter for anyone unable to afford the increasing cost of home heating this winter.
The ‘Open House’ initiative began its roll out in December, with Newry and Kilkeel Leisure Centres, Down Arts Centre, the Market House in Ballynahinch and Warrenpoint Town Hall running weekly sessions, offering a free hot drink and an opportunity for people to meet with old friends or new people.
Now, added to that list is Crossmaglen Library, which started on Wednesday, January 11 and Dan Rice Hall in Dumaness, which commenced on Friday, January 13.
The Open House sessions will operate weekly on their respective days in each location for the foreseeable future and a full list of locations, days and times can be found on the Council website.
Talking about the initiative, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Michael Savage said: “Many of our public buildings are already being heated and it is important we utilise this and open up these spaces to provide a warm and welcoming place that residents can benefit from, especially as the cost of fuel rockets.
“The reality that some of our residents are facing is that they cannot afford to keep their homes warm, with rising costs threatening to drive many into fuel poverty this winter. The Open House initiative is just one of the Council’s responses to the increase in energy and food prices. We will also be working with our community partners to identify gaps in provision and find
solutions to fill them.
“Later in January, we will be holding two ‘Keeping Warm and Well’ events in Newry and Downpatrick. These will provide information on energy efficiency, home safety and access to benefits from agencies such as the Housing Executive’s NI Energy Advice Service, the Consumer Council, South East Trust and Southern Trust, Community Advice, and the Council’s Affordable Warmth and Home Safety teams.
“I would encourage anyone in need of a warm space to drop into their local Open House session to soak up free warmth and a hot drink and come along to one of the Keeping Warm and Well events for advice on how to make your money stretch further.”