Warm Hub at St Bart's, Wilmslow
Warm Hubs are places in local communities where people can find a safe and warm space to help people reduce the need to heat their own homes. They can be anywhere in the community, but churches have been quick to respond to the need, in part, because setting up a Warm Hub is an extension of what they are already doing, such as running coffee mornings, or food banks.
We spoke to three churches across the diocese who have each set up a Warm Hub, to find out how they got started and how it's going.
St Bart's, Wilmslow
Flo Knowles is the manager of St Bart’s and also manages their ‘Food Friend’ food bank. During her time running the food bank, she has seen first-hand, how people’s need has increased, particularly over the last few months. She and her church were keen to do more for people and realised that establishing a warm hub would dovetail with their food bank activities, for only a little extra time, effort and outlay. They now host a warm hub on the first Saturday of every month and every Thursday and provide hot drinks, biscuits and soup.
St Bridget’s, West Kirby
Richard Williams, the Church Centre Manager explains that the church has been running a cafe on Wednesday mornings for over 10 years: “In a way, we’ve been a virtual Warm Hub for all that time.” By taking the step to be an official Warm Hub, they have become focused on working with other churches in the area to provide a warm welcoming environment for people in the local community every weekday from Monday to Friday. He says: "There has been good support from the local ‘community connectors’ from the council who have played a part in recognising needs and coordinating between Warm Hubs. In difficult times it’s really good to help people come together in a warm place with a warm drink, warm food, and warm conversation."
St Matthew’s, Edgeley
For some churches, funding is available. St Matthew’s were awarded a grant of £1000 from Stockport Council for the period from November to March 2023. Pam Robinson, Community Development Manager for the church, explains how their church building is just one of many places that have had support from the Council. She explains how the money will be used: “£100 will go towards activities for people to do when they are here, such as crafts and games, and the remaining £900 will be divided between heating costs and food and drinks, such as tea, coffee, biscuits and soup." Pam hopes that they will be able to continue the project in some way after March 2023, when the funding money ends. “We see this as part of our mission and outreach, to provide a place where local people can come and belong, and an opportunity for the church to welcome the community in."
Should we be offering a Warm Hub?
Any church can become a Warm Hub, and it might be something that you are actively considering already.
Sheena Wilson, Buildings for Mission Adviser in the Diocese of Chester, has been exploring the issue in a Church House Blog and says: "If your church currently has midweek services and lunch clubs and is already open to the community for a few hours, then it might be possible to extend the open hours and then offer soup or a toasty at lunchtime."
However she cautions that it might not be approiate for all churches: "Churches can be the most expensive places to keep warm and creating a Warm Hub needs to be affordable for those that create it."
As well as advice on the issue, she has also provided a list of resources to help churches plan how to respond well to the local need.
Should you need further support or advice, contact Sheena at Church House.
T: 01928 718834 Ext 236
M: 07729 072228