From listening to the community, we are aware of people’s fears for the winter and the financial difficulties they are facing, and also know how they value a friendly, welcoming place to meet with others.
Question and Answers on providing a warm space, thank you to Jennie at Crossroads Earlham for writing this.
Why did your church decide to get involved with providing a warm space?
Crossroads Earlham (Earlham parish) already has an established presence in North Earlham through the work of Crossroads St Elizabeth’s one of the church buildings.
During the pandemic and beyond, we partnered with local organisations to help the community in a number of different ways and respond to needs. We opened up St Elizabeth’s as soon as possible during the pandemic, offering free refreshments and a place to chat; this has continued.
We are already open to the community two mornings a week for activities such as Zumba, Cafe Church, Give & Take, and as a Foodbank distribution point. It seemed a sensible idea to offer a warm space for the community on these days and we have been supported in taking the idea forward by our local Community Connectors.
We have also registered with The Warm Welcome Campaign https://www.warmwelcome.uk which is supporting organisations across the country to respond to the cost of living crisis. This campaign was started by the ChurchWorks Commission and partners with a number of key organisations.
Were you initially put off by having to fund extra heating due to the cost to the church/PCC itself?
We weren’t put off by having to fund extra heating because it seemed an obvious thing to do and we feel this is a really important part of our outreach work in this area of Norwich. It is offering us more opportunities to connect with our local community and partner with other organisations and individuals and share God’s heart for people.
Are you heating the entire church or a room?
We will be heating the whole building, but one room in particular will be the designated warm area, and we can adjust individual radiator thermostats as required.
Did you get any funding provision for this and where from? How easy was it to apply for?
We applied for, and have received, a grant from the Winter Resilience Fund offered by Norfolk Community Foundation. (The closing date was at the beginning of August.) The funding we have received is for refurbishing the designated warm room, providing free refreshments, and for heating costs. Norfolk Community Foundation offers a number of grants for specific projects and geographical locations, they are very responsive to enquiries and applications.
Would you encourage other churches/PCCs to do likewise?
The current financial situation provides us all with an opportunity to reach out to our communities and offer them a warm welcome into our church buildings. Our experience suggests that this does not always have to be a big project, a couple of hours a week can make all the difference for people and make them feel cared for, quality not quantity.