In response to the cost of living crisis, churches across our diocese have begun to open their doors to the public as Warm Spaces.
One of those churches, doing their best to support people struggling with their rising bills this winter, is St Paul’s Ireland Wood who have set up a weekly space on a Monday teatime called Warm Welcome.
People from the local community are invited to come along for a free hot meal, refreshments, access to Wi-Fi and some friendly company.
Mark Harlow, vicar of St Paul’s Ireland Wood, said, “Warm Welcome is something we’ve worked on with local organisations and councillors as the cost of living crisis becomes all the more harsh.
“We wanted to provide a space where people could come and have that sense of dignity. Where people can chat and have community and have fun.
“We wanted to create a space where visitors don’t need to switch the heating on, they don’t need to cook a dinner and can save money in that way.
“We’ve provided this space for the community and as we do that we’re building relationship, building a sense of community and through that sharing a little bit of the love of Jesus.”
Bev Monck, a curate at St Paul’s, said, “We’ve got a really good team of volunteers who have offered to help. Already we have a steady stream of people and a growing number each week.
“We’re welcoming in new people who have heard about it or have been invited by those already coming.”
Warm Spaces have also been set up at other churches, such as St James in Boroughbridge and Pudsey Parish Church.
If your church is interested in starting up a Warm Space, find out more and sign up at the Warm Welcome website here.
Wellsprings Together, in partnership with the Diocese of Leeds Church Building Team, have also released a free toolkit to help churches across the Diocese get started.