More than 7,000 organisations are registered with the campaign and that figure is growing. As campaigners have pointed out, it’s a sign of the bleak state of poverty in the UK that warm banks are needed – but they will help people survive this winter.
The virtual map, found on the Warm Welcome’s website, shows all the warm spaces which are registered with the campaign and are open to guests. It was launched for the first time last year, when the cost of living crisis underlined an urgent need.
David Barclay, campaign coordinator, told The Big Issue last year: “It’s tragic that Warm Welcome spaces are required, but it’s heartening to see organisations stepping up and working together to provide a joined-up, nation-wide response.
“We believe that a movement is stirring which can not just support people through this winter but also help us as a country change direction on poverty and destitution.”
There is an estimated £35 shortfall each week between the cost of surviving and universal credit, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Trussell Trust. This means many people will have to look to their communities for support.
There are warm banks all over the country, according to the map, and many are offering more than just warmth. Some are providing hot drinks and food, others have computer access and free WiFi and some have games, activities and even film nights for children.
As the campaign’s website says: “Warm Welcome Spaces come in all shapes and sizes: community centres, libraries, churches, community cafes, arts centres, local businesses, and schools. No matter where they are based, you can be assured of a warm and friendly welcome. Every Warm Space is unique and offers different kinds of support and activities.”
There are warm spaces specifically for the elderly and others are running parent groups alongside their warm banks.
The campaign was set up by a number of charities including Christians Against Poverty and Stewardship in association with ChurchWorks, a network of churches which joined together to help communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.
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Many councils across the country have confirmed they are running warm banks this winter, or at least working with community organisations to ensure there are warm spaces for constituents.
Most libraries will once again offer warm spaces as the weather gets colder and the cost of living crisis continues to hit hard, a recent poll from Libraries Connected found. There are more than 3,000 across the UK.
If you can’t find a warm bank near you on Warm Welcome’s map, another way is to look on your local council’s website or contact it directly. Even if it is not running a warm bank itself, it should be able to direct you to a charity or other community organisation which is offering support this winter.
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