Leesiders who are struggling to heat their homes this winter are being encouraged to make use of community settings, such as the city’s ten libraries, to stay warm.
The advice was contained within a report by Adrienne Rodgers, director of services at Cork City Council’s community, culture and placemaking department.
The report was in response to a motion tabled by An Rabharta Glas councillor Lorna Bogue calling on the city council to set up City Hall as a 'heat hub' this winter.
A heat hub is a drop-in centre where people who cannot afford heating can sit to warm up.
The director of service’s report said that the local authority “has instigated a number of responses to concerns around energy pricing and winter wellness”.
It said that all citizens are encouraged to utilise community settings such as the ten city libraries which are open to the public five or six days a week.
“Libraries offer a comprehensive programme of events and community engagement opportunities or provide a comfortable space to read newspapers and access multimedia in a warm and comfortable setting,” the report continued.
It added that homeless services have worked with community and voluntary sector partners “to ensure that residential settings are being used for those experiencing homelessness and that this group will not be impacted by increasing energy costs”.
In addition, the council’s Community Response Forum set up during the Covid-19 pandemic has taken energy concerns and winter well-being into consideration since early autumn and has coordinated with the HSE “to gauge the most appropriate response to the needs of the elderly population this winter”.
A “comprehensive pamphlet” advising people on home upgrades and supports has been issued to over 2,000 households so far, with a further rollout planned.
The report further stated that the council’s community team will continue to engage with council departments and partners outside of the local authority “to ensure that assistance is being given where the need arises”.
Speaking at a council meeting yesterday evening, Ms Bogue commended the council on its “proactive approach” but said it is “not ideal that people would, as a result of the cost of living crisis and fuel poverty, have to come to council facilities in order to stay warm”.
Separately at the council meeting yesterday, Sinn Féin councillor Mick Nugent sought assurances that anyone in the city in need of a bed during the present cold snap would have one.
“I’m very satisfied that there is a bed for everybody that wishes to avail of a bed,” the council’s chief executive, Ann Doherty, said.
“I think it’s important to also state that we do, on occasion, find that people won’t engage with our services.
“Our outreach teams who are part of our citywide response engage with everybody in the city who is vulnerable every day of the week, but sometimes individuals may choose not to engage and we continually work to encourage them to come to safety,” she continued.