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Feeling lonely and looking for a winter warmer? Libraries extend their opening hours to beat January blues

Posted on 15 Jan 2024

The post-Christmas slump is being chased away in libraries around Devon and Torbay for the next few weeks with a warm, welcoming programme of events, groups and free hot drinks.

The ‘Libraries for Life’ campaign, launched in October, is stepping up until the end of March, a period of time which can be challenging for many people. Recent studies from the Campaign to End Loneliness found that more people than ever (7.1%) say they are lonely now, compared to during Covid (6%).

Libraries Unlimited, the charity that runs libraries in Devon and Torbay, is responding to the need and putting on extra initiatives to welcome people into their community hubs:

South Molton Library: Extended opening hours until the end of March. The library will now be open on Monday mornings from 9am – 1pm.

Totnes Library: Free hot drinks on Mondays, Wednesday mornings and Friday morning, alongside a community jigsaw puzzle that’s always on the go inviting people to sit and chat around it. This initiative has been provided thanks to a grant from Totnes Town Council.

Tavistock Library: Opening for a whole extra day a week on Wednesdays, with a ‘stay and play’ session for children and their parents and carers in the afternoon, a Work Club session for job-seekers in the morning, board games and Lego available for children and young people, and hot drinks.

Honiton Library: A brand new community fridge has launched in Honiton Library this January, with food available for anyone to take for free, to reduce food waste.

Bampton, Bovey Tracey, Chudleigh and Crediton Libraries are all opening for an extra half day per week, many with warm drinks and activities available.

Thanks to Devon County Council’s Growing Communities Fund, Torrington Library are repeating their popular ‘Meet up Mondays’ and Barnstaple Library are serving soup on Wednesday lunchtimes.

Torquay, Newton Abbott and Tiverton Libraries have all been generously supported by the National Grid’s Community Matters Fund to open for an extra session per week.

Find your local library in Devon or Torbay, or find them on Facebook for full details of opening hours.

Films at the Library: Running in many libraries throughout February, a chance to relax and watch a movie for a fraction of regular cinema costs. Check with your local library for their programme of films or visit

Libraries Unlimited Chief Executive Alex Kittow said: “Libraries have always been hubs of the community. But since Covid, we’re meeting a need that has escalated before our eyes. People are now lonelier than during the lockdowns of the pandemic. Statistics show over half a million more people say they’re more lonely, including a rise in people under the age of 30. Finances are also tighter, it’s expensive to heat our homes as the colder weather kicks in, and there’s never been a greater need for our warm welcoming spaces, where people can come together, have a hot drink and a friendly chat.”

The Libraries for Life initiative was successfully launched by Libraries Unlimited last winter. This year’s season is running from October to March. Individual libraries respond to community need to reflect, for example, the age of the population or financial challenges. As well as free hot drinks and refreshments, there are free information sessions and displays from organisations such as Citizens Advice, displays of books on the cost of living and budget cooking, and recommended books on health and wellbeing.

‘It means more than you know that you have this warm space. Being able to come and have a coffee somewhere, where you are among a throng of people and not on your own’Visitor to St. Thomas Library, Exeter, 2023

Libraries have also once again teamed up with Julian House and Willmott Dixon to help vulnerable people to find a free warm coat to take home from libraries. Anyone can donate an unwanted coat to fill the coat rails, from which anyone who needs a warm coat can come and take one. The following libraries are hosting coat rails this winter: Barnstaple, Bideford, Buckfastleigh, Churston, Cullompton, Exeter, Exmouth, Ilfracombe, Ivybridge, Kingsbridge, Newton Abbot, Paignton, Seaton, Sidmouth, Teignmouth, Tiverton, Torquay and Totnes.

Libraries would welcome support to help extend their offers this winter, as even small contributions can help to make a big impact to communities at this time of year. There are many different ways to support- every little helps:

If you are a Trust, Foundation or Business wanting to support warm banks in libraries, please get in touch with Libraries Unlimited’s Fundraising Officer:

Libraries in Devon and Torbay are run by Libraries Unlimited, an independent staff and community owned charity. Join up for free by filling in the online form at or Follow Libraries Unlimited on Facebook.

Libraries Unlimited believes…

…in the unlimited potential of library services to make a positive difference to people’s lives and communities through a shared love of reading and access to high quality information and facilities.