Winter Hubs - Keeping Warm and Active

Global events such as the Ukraine conflict and the post-covid economic situation have caused high inflation and the cost-of-living crisis: many people are struggling with the cost of fuel and food, which is more acute during winter months when heating bills are highest. The crisis is particularly felt by those on low incomes and older people. In Peterborough and Cambridgeshire as elsewhere, local authorities have responded by funding ‘Winter Hubs’: warm, welcoming and inclusive places, often community cafés or local organisations, where people can access food support and wider social support and advice. There are now 18 Winter Hubs in Peterborough and 10 across Fenland, for example. 

People accessing Winter Hubs are often among the least active in the community, eg. due to poverty, disability and age. Living Sport saw an opportunity to tackle inequality in physical activity by supporting the Winter Hubs to introduce activity programmes for their users. These are locally-identified and locally delivered, ensuring that they respond appropriately to local needs and interests. The initiative is new, but we have already supported a community gardening project at St. Mark’s Church in central Peterborough, and piloted table-tennis sessions at a community fridge.  

Pipeline projects are: 

  • chair-based activities for older people in North Bretton, a deprived part of Peterborough 
  • exercise classes and family fun-days at a community café 
  • offering opportunities such as New Age Kurling and chair-based exercises to warm spaces in Fenland 


The Winter Hub initiatives provide direct health and social benefits to the participants, but there are wider benefits too: the community garden, for example, is teaching life-skills such as gardening, healthy eating and cooking that participants can use at home. Some Hubs have never offered physical activity sessions before, and so they’re learning about how to develop and deliver such initiatives. The Winter Hubs’ staff are being trained in delivering fitness and health sessions, which helps to build the workforce in the physical activity sector, and will help the programmes to continue into the future. 

Living Sport’s Warm Hub initiative has been made possible through Sport England’s Together Fund. 

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