Renfrewshire Council

Large branding image for Winter Connections programme.

Running a Winter Connections space

Guidance for hosts running a Winter Connections space, including how to offer support, looking after staff and promoting the space.

On this page

About Winter Connections

Winter Connections is a network of local places and spaces where people can connect with others in their community this winter and take part in activities that will support health and wellbeing, reduce isolation and provide people with advice and support if they need it. Winter Connections activities are free, open to all and in every neighbourhood.

The information below will help you when setting up your activities as part of Winter Connections.

We're asking everyone hosting Winter Connections to make sure they are:

  • Open, free and easy to access
  • Inclusive, welcoming, respectful, and safe
  • Able or willing to provide connections to other services and supports
  • Able to offer warm drinks/snacks/food along with activities, where possible

Your activities

Winter Connections is all about bringing people together through fun and engaging activities, to support wellbeing and connectedness to your local community.

As part of the programme, we ask hosts to offer a warm drink, snacks or even a meal where possible. If you are serving food, you will need to ensure that at least some staff and volunteers have completed a basic food hygiene course. Food hygiene courses are available online at West College Scotland for £75 and ITA (Individual Training Account) approved REHIS Elementary Food Hygiene - West College Scotland.

Helpful information on handwashing, food storage, allergies, staff training and cleaning can be found in Renfrewshire Council's Safe Food Manual ( The Council website also provides useful information about food hygiene requirements. Food hygiene and quality - Renfrewshire Website

If you are able to provide things such as Wifi, access to devices or device charging alongside your activities, this could be really helpful for people. You may wish to set up a place where people can access device charging without having to ask. If you run your venue yourself, you should consider the additional costs this might incur and if you are using someone else's venue, check this with whoever pays the energy bills.  

Your Venue

Physical access

It is important that your venue can be used by everyone and to consider any barriers that may prevent this. Visitors with disabilities or additional needs will need information about level access, accessible toilets, parking, public transport, hearing loops and sensory friendly areas. For example, bright lighting is important for those with visual impairments, while blue LED lights and quieter spaces are more autism friendly. Some people may attend with assistance animals. Publicising accessibility information about your venue will encourage people to attend.

It is also important to consider families who will need access easy access with prams and buggies and will require access to baby change facilities.

The following factors are important for good physical access:

  • Approach to building (e.g. dropped kerbs, signage etc.)
  • Entrance accessibility (e.g. ramps, steps and handrails)
  • Doors (exterior and interior) with dignified access for all and accessible routes
  • Lifts and stairlifts that are easily accessible
  • Keeping aisles, corridors, doorways and spaces free of obstruction and with space to accommodate wheelchair and buggy users.
  • Means for people with disabilities to leave the building quickly in the event of an emergency.
  • Alarm systems suitable for alerting the hearing impaired
  • Critical distances (e.g. width of corridors, aisles and security sensors).


Travel costs could be a barrier to many people, including parking. Consider how you can make it easier for people to get to your space, especially if they have a disability. For example:

  • Ensure that you are able to direct people to local bus and train timetables and stops/stations.
  • You may be able to hire or loan a minibus to transport visitors to your venue.[AF1] [AF2] [AW3] 
  • There may be options for community transport
  • People could drive and car share

Young people under 22 years old who live in Scotland are eligible for free nationwide bus travel. Homepage - YPTS (

Community Transport

Community Transport buses are available to hire Monday to Friday except between 2pm and 4pm school run unless it is outside of term time.

The buses hold 15 people including the driver. It costs £25 to hire a bus and organisations who wish to hire a driver as well will have to pay £10.50 per hour.  If there is someone I the organisation with a D1 on their driving licence they can do an assessment to drive the bus.

Membership for Community Transport costs £30 for the year but this membership fee is being waived over the Christmas period. Organisations just pay for mileage and the first 20 miles are free.

Community Transport buses can be booked online or by emailing or phoning Stacy King at or 0141 778 2042. Keys for the bus can be picked up at the Tannahill Centre or from Stacy in Neilston. For further information please contact Stacy.

Heating costs

Organisations may be concerned about the cost of heating their buildings this Winter. The Centre for Sustainable Energy has put together documents with tips on how to save energy in community buildings How to save energy in your community building | Centre for Sustainable Energy ( and you can use their heating cost calculator to help work out how much your typical heating costs should be 5 assessing the heat demand of a community building_Layout 1.qxd (

Making your venue safe

Winter Connections should always be safe places, and you will need to think about how you minimise the risk of infection from COVID-19 and flu, especially for people more vulnerable to infection.

In order to keep your venue and attendees safe from infection, please follow Public Health Scotland's COVID-19 guidance for community settings.COVID-19 information and guidance for workplaces and community settings (

Your venue may be busier than usual, so hygiene is important, and you may wish to re-introduce measures taken to reduce infection during the pandemic, for example, setting up sanitising stations and regularly cleaning seating, surfaces and keyboards.

When planning activities, take into account the maximum safe numbers and whether you want to (or are able to) have separate spaces for different groups, e.g. school children or families with young children. Ventilation and temperature are key considerations, along with a common-sense approach to contact and proximity issues.


The basic level of warmth for a healthy person wearing warm clothing is 18°C. Venues should therefore aim for 18 - 20°C as a minimum. However, the ideal room temperature is not the same for everyone and it will depend on what individuals are wearing and what they are doing. Young children and older people often need a slightly warmer ambient temperature.

You may need to set the thermostat higher and to allow a more relaxed dress code for staff. Providing coat racks is a good idea but customers should be able to keep their coats on if they wish. It may also be appropriate to offer blankets to those sitting still for any length of time, or near open windows.

Helping people access advice and support

Renfrewshire Council has launched a help with the cost of living page on its website. This brings together advice and support with the cost of living including paying your bills, mortgage or rent, benefits you could claim, council tax reductions, help with food, school meals and energy bills, including Council Tax or rent payments. The following resources provide helpful information relating to finance, affordable credit and debt advice:

Organisations involved in Winter Connections will receive leaflets with contacts for local support services which can be left in the venue for people to take away with them.

Your venue can also offer free period products. Renfrewshire Council offers a service to  order free period products to your home, public venue or community organisation.

ALISS A Local Information System for Scotland | ALISS is a national digital programme enabling people and professionals to find and share information on resources, services, groups, and support in their local communities and online.

It can help you find information about resources like:

  • services that provide support for managing long term conditions
  • groups that support social and community connection (e.g., local choirs, book groups, befriending)
  • activities that offer opportunities for getting more active and for getting outdoors (e.g., badminton clubs, community gardens)
  • practical, legal, and financial support (e.g., money advice, advocacy services)
  • digital technology that can support health and social care (e.g., online forums, health related mobile apps).


If staff and volunteers are working alone with children or older people, they will require a PVG check. Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme (

Online PVG Application Service (

Everyone has the right to feel safe and be safe. Most of us can live our lives free from the risk of harm. However, some people may find it more difficult to keep themselves safe and might need help and support to look after themselves. Legislation makes it a duty for organisations to report harm if they think someone is being badly treated, and to share information if they are worried about someone being harmed.

If you think someone is being harmed or is at risk of being harmed, please contact the In addition, if you are concerned about a child you should contact social work on 0300 300 1199 or during evenings and weekends call 0300 343 1505. Alternatively, contact Police Scotland on 101.

Engage Renfrewshire have produced information to help navigate local mental health services.

If you are concerned about a child's mental health, please refer to Ren10 Children & Young People's Mental Health Website.

Looking after your staff and volunteers

While most organisations will have policies in place, it's important that staff and volunteers are trained properly and are supported to confidently engage with individuals who may be feeling vulnerable. You should always avoid having staff working alone in your venue. Microsoft Word - Supporting Your Volunteers (

Staff and volunteers may also be facing financial hardship so it is important to create an environment where they feel comfortable to discuss any concerns and can benefit from some peer support.

It is important to ensure that staff and volunteers are aware of the boundaries of their specific role and have a clear understanding of what is expected of them and what is not. This provides a safe environment for staff and volunteers and for people attending activities.

Staff and volunteers may also need to manage problem behaviour if it arises, and they must be given clear instructions on how to call in extra support if necessary.

A risk assessment is useful to highlight any potential issues and check that your insurance covers any new activity that you are providing.

Promoting your activities

The language you use to describe your space, and the way in which you present the services you host there, are vital to reducing feelings of stigma or judgement. For this reason, we ask that you avoid using terms like warm banks, heated rooms, free meals etc, and focus on the activities you are providing.

If you are offering services such as advice on benefits, debt or home energy, these should be presented generally as 'local services or advice' alongside activities.

We have produced a Winter Connections 'mark' which you can use when promoting your activities. It has been design to reflect the way people will come together and build connections. We also have a range of posters and stickers that you can use in your venue or community to let people know about your activities, as well as digital material you can use on your website or on social media.

Download the Winter Connections main logo (right click and save as). This is a PNG logo with a transparent background.

Try to think about ways to promote your activities for people who do not use the internet or social media. You could post flyers and leaflets in council buildings, local community centres, church bulletin boards, supermarkets, shops and cafes to reach as many people as possible.

Keep in touch

We'd love to hear how your Winter Connections events have gone. Please let us know what's gone well, what can be improved, and what you've learnt.

If you would like more information or support to help make your Winter Connections activities a success, please get in touch with Andrena Faulkner at