A very warm welcome awaits at Awen Cultural Trust’s venues this winter, as the registered charity is providing a range of free activities, events and hot refreshments in heated, safe spaces to support local communities through the cost of living crisis.

From 1st November 2022 to 31st March 2023, the Grand Pavilion in Porthcawl will host a Creative Cwtch every Monday from 10am until 12 noon, where local crafters can bring their own crafts to knit and natter or create and chatter whilst enjoying a free cup of tea and the beautiful sea views.

On Wednesdays, except 21st and 28th December, the theatre will be encouraging anyone who works from home to do their day’s work from the Oriel Bar instead, with free hot drinks and wifi to help keep those productivity levels high!

On Friday afternoons between 2pm and 4pm, the café will be hosting free live music gigs from some of the best musicians in the UK. Free tea and coffee will be provided. There is no need to book tickets in advance.

A similar programme is planned for the Met in Abertillery, with Creative Cwtch from 10am – 12pm every Monday, Workplace Wednesdays from 9.30am – 4.30pm every Wednesday and Free Music Fridays every Friday from 10am to 12pm.

At Blaengarw Workmen’s Hall, Workplace Mondays will take place every week in the studio between 9.30am and 4.30pm, Creative Cwtch will be held every Wednesday between 10am and 12pm and Free Music Fridays will be held in the main hall from 10am to 12pm.

Awen Libraries across the county borough of Bridgend will continue to open their doors in the usual way all winter with free wifi, magazines newspapers and books, space to relax, read or work and a weekly programme of activities including craft sessions, reading groups and story times.

This year, thanks to funding from Welsh Government’s Place to Connect campaign, which highlights the important role libraries play in supporting people’s health and wellbeing, free hot drinks will be provided and jigsaws and board games will be available for all customers to use.

Of course, library staff will also be on hand to help members use the public PCs to access the internet and they are well-placed to signpost people to reliable, high quality information and other organisations who can offer support during the cost of living crisis.

Richard Hughes, Chief Executive of Awen Cultural Trust, said:

“As those responsible for the day-to-day running of these much-loved community venues on behalf of Bridgend and Blaenau Gwent County Borough Councils, we are proud to play our role and hopefully make a real difference to local people’s lives over the coming winter months as energy prices rise and the cost of living crisis takes hold. Anyone who attends our venues can be assured that they are non-judgmental, fully accessible, safe spaces where people can come to get warm, save money on their heating costs and spend time with new or old friends over a free hot drink.”

Councillor Rhys Goode, Bridgend County Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Future Generations and Wellbeing, said: “It’s absolutely vital that we continue to offer residents as much support as possible during the cost-of-living crisis. One way of achieving this is by working together with key partners such as Awen and Welsh Government to create initiatives such as the Warm Welcome Programme.

“It’s really pleasing that this programme can offer a wide range of support, in a relaxed and friendly environment. It’s also great to see that this help will be offered right across the county borough and will be readily available to all residents.”

Leader of Blaenau Gwent Council, Cllr Steve Thomas, added:

“This is an extremely thoughtful idea by the Awen Cultural Trust to provide a warm, safe, and entertaining, space for local residents this winter.

“As a Council, we recognise the immense pressure the current cost of living crisis is having on many people. We have made it one of our immediate priorities to do all we can to support our communities, and are currently working on plans of how we can add to the number of warm hubs and introduce other initiatives to best support people.”