30 May 2024

Church launches warm spaces initiative

By Tim Nuttall

The continuing cold and unsettled weather, coupled with the spiralling energy bills that are contributing to the cost-of-living crisis, has inspired Withernsea Methodist Church to step in and offer a weekly opportunity for members of the community to stay warm this winter.

Promising a warm welcome as well as a warm space, the church is opening its doors from 11am to 3pm every Thursday until the end of March for the purpose of providing a comfortable environment where people can meet with heat.

This free-to-attend provision is open to all members of the community and will offer a warm space for individual peace and quiet, or a social setting to meet and talk to others.

Complimentary light refreshments, including hot drinks and snacks, will be available and there will also be an opportunity for people to charge their phones and other portable devices.

Each session will also include a free jigsaw and book exchange, plus a games and activity table.

Access to the internet, by arrangement with the volunteers, is also an option being offered to attendees.

Church leadership member Mike Cox said: “As we move into very uncertain times with regard to isolation and high energy costs, the Methodist Church of Great Britain is encouraging its network of churches to set up warm spaces for the benefit of their wider communities.

“Withernsea Methodist Church has always been keen to be part of the community and to offer both spiritual and practical support for people. Feeling that many people in the Withernsea area could potentially be struggling in the new year, with some still feeling isolated, we registered our church as a warm space in the Warm Welcome network to help offer support on a local level.”

The Warm Welcome Campaign was started by ChurchWorks, a commission that brings together 15 major UK Christian denominations to unite and tackle the cost of living crisis
in local communities. To date, almost 4,000 registered organisations have already opened free, warm, welcoming spaces for the public thanks to the work of the commission and the support of church communities around the country.

A £250 donation from Withernsea & District Lions, coupled with funding from the Methodist Church itself, has helped to launch the Warm Space initiative at the Hull Road venue.

It now forms part of an ever-increasing programme of events and activities designed to support the community and bring people together.

On the final Thursday of each month, the Warm Space provision will be encompassed by the church’s established Food, Friendship and Fun session. Since their launch in April last
year, these monthly free-to-attend social events have continued to grow in popularity – helping to bring the community together by offering attendees the chance to socialise in a safe and relaxing atmosphere.

They have also paved the way to showcase the talents of local performers, from poets to singers, who freely offer their time and expertise to entertain those who frequent the events.

As well as providing entertainment, the Food, Friendship and Fun sessions offer attendees a simple lunch of soup and a bread roll, followed by a selection of homemade buns. While the food is free, an opportunity to leave donations is offered if desired.

A varied selection of entertainment is already confirmed for the next three months, with the Gazette’s own Sam Hawcroft, under her stage name Sam Martyn, set to perform a selection of songs in January. She will be followed in February by five-piece folk band, Morning Dew, while March will see husband and wife duo Josie and Andrew Briggs take to the stage to entertain the group.

The success of these monthly meetings helped to highlight the need for the Warm Space intervention.

Mike added: “The Food, Friendship and Fun sessions helped to indicate the need for a more regular opportunity for people to meet in a safe, warm environment through the winter. This led to us producing a Warm Space charter which sets out our mission to ensure that everyone will be given a warm welcome, as well as a warm space. Everyone will be treated equally, with dignity and respect.

“If people want to share their reasons for needing a Warm Space, there will always be someone there to listen, help and support. However, we aim to offer a non-judgmental environment so that whatever the reason a person has for needing to come in, they’ll be treated the same as everyone else and never judged.”

The Warm Space initiative is part of a wider project by the Methodist Church of Great Britain which, in a statement, said: “Christians believe that everyone should be able to live with dignity, knowing their intrinsic worth and value.

“Poverty contradicts the will of God, and robs people of their dignity, sense of worth and value. Providing a warm space must be a temporary response, alongside campaigning for people to live with dignity, which includes having a warm space in their own home.”

To help ensure the success of the forthcoming Warm Space events and maintain their availability, volunteers and donations are always welcome at the church.

If anyone feels they are able to contribute in any way, please contact Mike Cox on 07484 314 912 or email [email protected] for further information and to express interest.

For further information about the national Warm Welcome initiative, including access to an interactive map showing other open locations in the local area and beyond, visit warmwelcome.uk.