Winter is upon us, so as temperatures drop and Christmas approaches I wanted to highlight some of the local initiatives available, to provide support during what will be a challenging time of year.

Before I do that, I would like to bring to your attention to ideas for potential updates to the structure of the school year.

The Welsh Government is currently consulting on the school holidays and you can have your say here: .

The idea is to keep the same number of weeks holiday but spread them differently through the year.

The summer break will not be reduced below four weeks. The initial proposal is to move one week from the six week summer break to the October half term, which would become a two week break. Other potential changes are outlined at the above link. All responses must be received by February 12, 2024.

Support through the winter period

Welcoming Spaces (also known as Warm Hubs) have been set up across the borough to provide a warm space and a friendly face.

They have been set up in various venues, like libraries, community centres, church halls and sports clubs. You can find information at

Caerphilly Council is also keen to work with community groups who wish to develop their own warm hub with funding available from the Welsh Government, to support the development of new hubs or to expand existing provisions. Contact the Caerphilly Cares team for more information: or 01443 811490. If you would like to volunteer at a warm hub you can find more information at

Here is a list of further support which may be helpful to share with friends, family and neighbours:

Older and elderly support agencies:

* Support for people over 50 years of age - Home - Over 50 Caerphilly (

* Practical and wellbeing support for the older generation -

* Social and emotional wellbeing activities available at Caerphilly Miners Centre - What's On | CMCC New Site (

Mental health support

* Mental Health support -

Homelessness support

* Homelessness support in Caerphilly - Caerphilly - Caerphilly County Borough

* Shelter holds weekly homelessness support drop-ins at Caerphilly library -

Domestic abuse support

* Domestic abuse support -

* Domestic abuse support for women -

* Men experiencing domestic abuse can contact the Respect Men’s Advice Line on 0808 801 0327

* Men suffering abuse can also contact The Dyn Project in Wales on 0808 801 0321

* Live Fear Free helpline is available for all on 0808 80 10 800. Available 24-hours a day, seven-days a week.

Clothing and presentation support

* There is a free clothing bank available to all at Bargoed YMCA, Aeron Place, Gilfach. Please call first so the staff can ensure there someone there to meet you – 01443 831116

* Caerphilly Uniform Exchange can also help with uniform, as well as adult and children’s clothes and shoes -

* Free haircuts are available by the Parent Network – Bargoed YMCA, Gilfach. Please call 01443 831116 and ask for the Parent Network

Access to food

* Access food for a donation of a few pounds at The Parish Trust in Trethomas - 02921 880212

* Holy Trinity Church Hall, Ystrad Mynach. Access food for £3 donation – call Judith Climer on 07471500865

* Find your nearest Food Bank here: Find a Food Bank - The Trussell Trust

Financial support

* Citizens Advice provide general advice on debt and benefits -

* Check if there are benefits that you may be entitled to - Check benefits and financial support you can get - GOV.UK (

* Upcoming Cost of Living payment dates: Cost of Living Payments 2023 to 2024 - GOV.UK (

* Welsh Government emergency financial support, for anyone who has no other options: Discretionary Assistance Fund (DAF) | GOV.WALES

On that note, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a safe and peaceful Christmas period. As always I am available for appointments upon request at