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MELKSHAM’S community spirit continues to shine during the cost-of-living crisis as people, groups and organisations have been pulling together to support the town with food supplies and keeping warm.
Support is available to help people with access to food supplies from places such as the foodbank and community larder, and to help people keep warm with slow cookers, electric blankets and energy advice sessions, to educate people about how to efficiently heat their homes.
Free slow cookers at the foodbank
Melksham Foodbank has been given £500 funding to distribute free slow cookers to people using the service.
Slow cookers use less energy and less electricity as they have a low wattage and they work by simmering food at a low temperature for a few hours.
The project is part of a councillor-led initiative to support low-income families. Speaking about the initiative at the Melksham Area Board meeting last month, chairman cllr Phil Alford, who is leading the initiative said, “The foodbank is currently distributing slow cookers to people who use the service and so far, we have had a really positive response to this. If this continues to be successful, we will look for opportunities for further funding to help them continue that project if it works.”
Electric blankets from Melksham Free Dining
Melksham Free Dining were given a grant from the area board to distribute 31 electric blankets to their diners in need of support to keep warm.
Dee Macleod said, “We had been running a series of advisory talks with our diners devised by Louisa and myself, on ways and means of keeping warm this winter. I devised a keeping warm quiz and the results showed that the electric blankets were an economical and useful way of keeping warm. The manufacturers of electric blankets promote the running costs, depending on size, as to being 1p to 4p an hour.
“The area board agreed to cover the cost of half the blankets, providing funds from Melksham Free Dining covered the other half. The joint amount enabled us to buy and distribute the blankets amongst our diners. We had previously also provided hot water bottles, gloves and hats, specifically from Melksham Free Dining funds.”
Melksham Free Dining’s allocation of electric blankets has now been distributed. Deedee Macleod said, “The project has closed, but if other diners or new diners needed one, then Melksham Free Dining would cover the cost of ensuring they had an electric blanket.”
Where are Melksham’s warm spaces?
Some locations across the town are now listed as warm spaces, where people can go to be in a warm environment if they are struggling to heat their homes.
The warm spaces across the town are:
Energy advice sessions have also been held across the town by Wiltshire Wildlife Community Energy, sharing tips and ideas about how to reduce heat loss, how to increase warmth and how to keep costs down. Further details can be found on the website www.wwce.org/post/keep-warm-this-winter-with-wwce
Food at the Community Larder
The town community larder, based at the Round House on Church Street, gives out surplus food to help minimise food waste in Melksham.
Organiser Adrienne Westbrook said, “The larder is always there to help with food waste in Melksham however the happy accident of that is that, with the rising cost of living, we have been able to help local families who have found this festive season harder than in other years.
“The Community Larder is staffed entirely by volunteers. A dedicated band of about 12 collect, sort and operate the Larder. Very little is wasted, and anything not suitable for residents goes to local composting or as animal feed. Thanks to an arrangement with the town council, we are able to open in the Roundhouse, near the post office, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with a new opening time of 2.00pm on those days. This is to try to accommodate the majority of people who use the larder, many of whom have young children, allowing them to pop in on their way to do the school run.
“We are happy to announce that in the coming weeks, we are looking to open a community wardrobe, where we will be giving out coats and other clothing necessities, so keep your eyes on our social media to find out more.”
The community larder is open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 2pm, at the Round House.