We know that many churches are thinking about setting up Warm Spaces/Hubs to help those that are struggling with fuel costs this winter. Following on from a presentation at Diocesan Synod we have listed some of the key links and websites and things to think about. A list of Warm Spaces available in our Diocese can be found here.
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 you could extend a coffee morning, toddler group or after school club, rather than starting something new.
- Work in partnership. Who else id 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 is more 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 that 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:
- Durham County Council register your Warm Space with LOCATE Home | Durham Locate They also have help and some grants of up to £1000 and free training for volunteers. For more information Warm Spaces Network - Durham County Council-
- Stockton Council are registering here Warm Spaces - Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council again were offering funding but have stopped but information about Warm Spaces and how to register are all in the site and sign post to possible funds
- Gateshead Warm Spaces - Gateshead Council unfortunately no more grants available but there is lots of information on the web page
- South Tyneside Warm spaces South Tyneside - South Tyneside Council will list all warm spaces on their website and in libraries
- Hartlepool- Warm Hub Promise (hartlepoolnow.co.uk)
- County Durham Community Foundation are also offering Poverty Hurts grants of up to £2k, which will consider warm space type activities: https://www.cdcf.org.uk/grants-for-groups/poverty-hurts-winter-relief-grants/