Hundreds of thousands of people in Scotland have used free community spaces to keep warm this winter, according to Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS).
The charity estimates more than 230,000 people have visited community centres, libraries and cafes over the season to heat themselves up and save money on home energy bills.
The organisation is encouraging individuals struggling with the cost of living to seek help from its network.
It estimates householders who sought energy related advice from staff last year saved more than £400 on average, and those who sought general advice and benefitted from it received over £3,700.
CAS calculated the number of people turning to community spaces to keep warm this winter by analysing research from YouGov as part of its Worried This Winter? campaign.
Energy spokesman Matthew Lee said: “These are shocking figures which show the scale of concern and the measures people have taken to try and stay warm in cold weather as energy bills have increased.
“People are struggling to keep warm in their own home and they don’t want to turn the heating on because of the costs, so they will find somewhere else to get a heat.
“People being forced to take these sorts of decisions should be completely unacceptable in 2024.
“We would encourage anyone worried about the cost of bills this winter to seek help from the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) network.
“That doesn’t have to mean going to a CAB: our online advice pages are used by millions of people a year and we have interactive self-help tools to help people see where they could boost their incomes or cut their costs.
“The CAB network gets incredible results for people. Last year, for those who saw a financial gain after seeking advice, the average received over £3,700.
“That can be absolutely life-changing money this winter. And remember our advice is always free, impartial and confidential. We don’t judge, we just help.”
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