We know that many churches are thinking about setting up Warm Spaces/Hubs to help those that are struggling with fuel costs this winter. Here are some suggestions and tips for those considering setting up a Warm Hub for their community.
A Warm Space is offered, free of charge to anyone needing some time in a warm and welcoming environment where they will be offered a warm drink and a warm welcome. It would be good to be able to offer additional activities but theses could be as simple as some newspapers, board games or children’s toys. Or there could be more organised activities such as crafts, a film night, a quiz, book club, forming a choir or other events.
There is an expectation that there will be warm drinks available and many Warm Spaces are offering food. Food provision would require groups to comply with the usual hygiene rules.
Some key points:
- Try and build on something you are already doing, for example extend a coffee morning, toddler group or after school club, rather than starting something new.
- Work in partnership. Who else is doing something? Can you work together or offer a different time or day?
- Is your building the best place to hold a Warm Space? Often our buildings are diificult and expensive to heat and there might be an alternative church building, library or community room that would be suitable.
- Think about what activities can be offered, however simple.
- Many Warm Spaces are happening during the day and during the working week, so be aware of people who work and the issues families might have on a weekend. For example, if your building is already heated on a Sunday, can you offer a space before or after the service?
- Have some literature around to signpost people to other sources of help and support. Your Local Authority are likely to have leaflets that will help.
Nationally, the Warm Welcome website gives support and a place to register your Warm Space. Please register here Warm Welcome | Partners. Once you register you'll be able to access resources including posters, banners and template social media posts, information on recruiting volunteers, guidance on how to keep your space “safe”, a fundraising toolkit, guidance on how to make your space as welcoming as possible, and more!
Locally, provision and support varies between Local Authorities. Please also sign up to local websites as many people will look on their local council website in the first instance and many local support services use the local authority list:
- Northumberland Council Northumberland County Council - Keeping warm this winter
- Newcastle Council Winter wellbeing hubs | Newcastle City Council
- North Tyneside Council: Email VCS@northtyneside.gov.uk with the following informaiton:
- Day and time that it will be open (must be same day each week)
- Contact details for the site
- A list of services that will be available (which must include access to free hot beverages, i.e. soup/tea/coffee)
- Information on the accessibility of the site i.e. does it have wheelchair access, disabled toilets etc.
North Tyneside Council: Cost of living support | North Tyneside Council. A map of Warm Welcome venues within North Tyneside is also available here.