Ross-on-Wye deputy mayor Cllr Bev Pope has shared her insights on the town’s Warm Spaces inititave. She has been a driving force in getting the scheme moving.

She said: “Some of the Ross Warm Spaces are definitely growing in popularity and we hope that in the coming weeks more people will join in the sessions. And though some people are coming because they are really cold and hungry, there is definitely a strong social feeling developing, people are enjoying meeting up with those they know already but also it’s really interesting to talk with people who you’ve never met before. 

“In many ways going out and just sharing a warm space with other people in the British winter isn’t how we normally behave. As a nation we do tend to go into hibernation! We might go to a cafe or a cinema but probably won’t have conversations with people we don’t know. But it can be really great to meet new people and share our knowledge and experiences—and our Ross Warm Spaces are really good places to make new contacts and friends. It’s not just about physically being warm—it’s about being part of a community and not allowing the winter weather to isolate us.

“Of course for some people facing huge financial hardship it’s also about having some warm drinks and in quite a few places some delicious homemade soup—and the soups I have been lucky enough to try are really delicious! All the hot drinks and soup are free, which might seem like charity but I don’t think of it in that way. All of us need help at some point in our lives, so I feel it’s only fair that those who are a bit better off at the moment should share their good luck with those who have less. 

“During the Covid lockdowns we had a huge lesson in how important contact with other people is. Let’s not forget that lesson—the energy price crisis is bad enough economically and physically for us all but please don’t let it become a mental health crisis too. Please come along to some of our Warm Space sessions and save on your heating costs and just enjoy being with your Ross neighbours.”

“The way the volunteers have got behind this scheme shows what a great community Ross is. We may not be perfect as a town but we try really hard to make our community as good as it can be. Still work to do but we have all done so well to recover as well as we have since the lockdowns.”