A row of model wooden churches on a pale blue background

25th November 2022

We’re Here Network and Warm Welcome Spaces

“Warm spaces” is fast becoming a theme this winter.  Two older ladies recently came along to the first Warm Space meal at Wimborne Elim church run in conjunction with the Wimborne Food Bank+ team. They had never met before but hit it off to such an extent that one of them said: “Had an amazing afternoon and the meal was beautiful. The [team] were amazing… I met V & we have named ourselves the Rocking Nanas! Thank you again.”

Our goal at Faithworks is to see that no one is more than 15 minutes from a place of hope, support and friendship. We therefore have a special interest in seeing the number of safe, welcoming spaces increase.

David Chidwick, from Faithworks, explains: “There is a church in every neighbourhood, so they are well placed to play their part in the Warm Spaces initiative that is happening this winter.”

However, David is keen to take this further: he and the Faithworks team sat down with churches last summer as many were opening their doors again after Covid. When asked, the church reps summarised their work as providing support to the whole person: material and spiritual hope to some of the most vulnerable in our neighbourhood.

The vision that came out of this was: “Churches and Christians working together across BCP providing safe places to prayerfully offer Practical help, Positive relationships, and Purpose for life activities across the week.”

And so the We’re Here Network was launched. As David explains: “The name underlines what we’re about:  When you feel no one understands, when you are not sure who cares, when you don’t know which way to turn, we’re here. When you are struggling to pay the bills, you feel lost, you’re homeless or you’re hungry, we’re here.”

The first step for the We’re Here Network is to support churches by providing:

  1. A checklist for churches preparing to open up a warm space
  2. A local knowledge pack including key contacts at local Food Banks, the CMA (Community Money Advice) team and support around energy costs, mental health and addiction.
  3. A coaching plan including safeguarding and specialist training from local partners Prama, ICN and STAR Recovery. Enabling teams to create welcoming spaces where people feel listened to and feel they belong.

As the number of warm spaces grows on sites such as www.warmwelcome.uk and both BCP and Dorset Councils provide funds to help establish warm spaces, the We’re Here Network is expanding too – ready to welcome whoever needs a safe place this winter and beyond.

David has a story to underline the Network’s importance: “I met a gentleman at a lovely hub in a local community church. It was nearly closing time and he said that he had felt so welcome, he didn’t want to go home – did I know anywhere he could go? 

Thanks to the We’re Here Network, I knew that just 10 minutes walk up the road the café at the local Methodist church was open. Later that day I popped in to that café, and the gentleman was there enjoying tea and a huge scone.  He was safe, welcome and warm.  Having a network had made his day a whole lot better.”

Find out more below or email David at: david.chidwick@faith-works.org.uk or contact the office on 01202 429037.

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