News release from: 31/05/2023
Introducing the Cambridgeshire Community Hubs Network
Residents across South and East Cambridgeshire can continue to benefit from local support in community buildings this summer, thanks to a new initiative developed on the back of the original Warm Hubs concept that ran in local communities from October 2022 to the end of March 2023.
Warm Hubs were originally designed to support vulnerable and isolated people, as well as those on lower incomes, during the winter of 2022 - at a time when the cost of living was a significant challenge. Operating at the heart of local communities, the Warm Hubs concept offered warm, friendly and inclusive places with access to light refreshments. Hubs also provided residents with somewhere to socialise, take part in activities and receive information on how to reduce bills, access financial support, and stay healthy and well.
Warm Hubs were incredibly popular, but not just for the cost of living support. Hubs offered residents a chance to socialise, meet new friends, and enjoy each other’s company – tackling issues of isolation and loneliness. In establishing Warm Hubs, it became evident that the local communities were craving this sense of connection and togetherness; a desire not just limited to the winter months.
Thanks to new funding from Cambridgeshire County Council (for Hubs in East Cambridgeshire) and South Cambridgeshire District Council (for the Hubs in their District), these local communities can continue to deliver and experience community connections under the newly created Cambridgeshire Community Hubs Network.
Cambridgeshire Community Hubs will run with a similar framework to the original Warm Hubs concept – with an emphasis on offering local communities a place to connect with each other. The activities and services available within the new network will also continue to be operated by the original ‘Warm Hubs trained’ volunteers; who themselves are residents within the local area and uniquely positioned to understand the needs of the local communities.
Cambridgeshire ACRE continues to facilitate the Hubs in this new stage. Commenting on the transfer over to the Cambridgeshire Community Hubs Network, Cambridgeshire ACRE’s Chief Executive, Kirsten Bennett, said: "The Warm Hubs concept made an immediate impact in the communities that they served, and we could see right from the beginning that there was a desire within those communities to continue to build on these community connections once the winter had passed. Whilst Warm Hubs were initially developed to tackle challenges surrounding cost of living during a cold winter, what we saw was communities coming together just to be together – to be social, to not be isolated, to meet new people, and learn new things. We are so pleased that we are able to continue to support local residents and local volunteers through this new initiative, so that they can continue to thrive together under the banner of the Cambridgeshire Community Hubs Network.”
South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Communities, Cllr Bill Handley, said: “We were pleased to support more than 25 Warm Hubs across South Cambridgeshire throughout the winter - with around 9,300 visits recorded up until the end of March. It’s excellent that a significant number will now evolve into Community Hubs for the months ahead, meaning many residents will benefit from further support close to where they live. The new Community Hubs also provide a sense of togetherness through places where residents can meet others, socialise and learn new things.”
The Cambridgeshire Community Hubs Network is set to run in eight communities across East Cambridgeshire until at least the end of March 2024. In South Cambridgeshire, 16 Community Hubs are funded until at least the end of August 2023 with more funding under negotiation.
The Warm Hubs Facebook page was a key way for residents to find out more about Hubs running in their local area, with a large number of followers gained during the winter period. This Facebook page has now been restructured to become the Cambridgeshire Community Hubs Network page, which will act as a new digital home for the continuing network. Residents can visit the new Cambridgeshire Community Hubs Network Facebook page to see the full list of Hub locations and their opening hours.