Churches open 'warm hubs' for people struggling to heat their homes
Published on 2 November 2022 4 minutes read
Churches across Scotland have launched "warm hubs" to help people struggling to pay their heating bills this winter.
Congregations taking part in the initiative are encouraging vulnerable individuals and families to visit their halls for a few hours during the day to keep warm instead of shivering in cold homes that they cannot afford to heat and light.
Also known as heat hubs or warm spaces, many churches are providing free wi-fi so people can sit and work on their laptops and school children can do their homework.
People can busy themselves reading newspapers, playing board games, cards, colouring in and enjoy soup, hot drinks and snacks.
A response to the cost of living crisis, it is hoped that the emergency provision in cities, towns and villages will also help combat social isolation and loneliness by encouraging people to come together and meet new friends.
Hospitality and welcome
Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said: "Church members are acutely aware of the financial pressure facing many people as the cost of living crisis bites.
"As winter approaches, some people are understandably anxious about how they will manage to pay their bills and the Church is keen to reassure them that there are places where they can go for some hours of the day as an alternative to worrying about sitting in homes they can scarcely afford to heat.
"Congregations are called to serve people in their parishes and at the heart of the Christian message is hospitality and welcoming the stranger, particularly those who are vulnerable."
There are too many heat hubs being operated by congregations across the country to name but here are a few examples.
Kelvinbridge Parish Church in Glasgow is running a Warm Wednesdays club from 11am until 2pm.
Nearby Ruchhill Parish Church in Maryhill have teamed up with partners in the local area to ensure five buildings are kept open as warm hubs throughout the week and the church's Mackintosh Hall is open on Fridays between 12pm-4pm.
Lasswade and Rosewell Parish Church in Midlothian is open as a warm space on Wednesdays from 10am-12pm.
Members of East and Old Church and Lowson Memorial Church in Forfar, Angus are launching a service on the 14th of November.
It will be open between Monday and Friday from 9.30am until 12.30pm at East and Old Church and from 12.30pm to 3.30pm at Lowson Memorial Church.
In Dundee, Downfield Mains Church runs the Kirkton and Downfield Warm Hub on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9am-12pm.
St Michael's Church in Edinburgh is open every Tuesday from 9am-5pm for people to keep warm and hot drinks are provided.
West Kilbride Parish Church in North Ayrshire runs a service in the Lower Hall between Tuesday and Friday from 12 noon until 3pm.
In East Ayrshire, Darvel Parish Church has teamed up with community groups and will run a warm welcome project every Saturday afternoon from 2pm-4pm from this weekend.
In Lochaber, Fort William Kilmallie Church is opening a warm space this Saturday at their MacIntosh Hall in Fort William.
People will be able to go there each week from 10am until 2pm and hot drinks and soup will be served.
Wishaw Parish Church in South Lanarkshire run a so-called Fuel Hub on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10am until 4pm.
In Hawick, St Mary's and Old Parish Church plans to open a warm hub in a hall every Friday from 10am-12pm.
In Aberdeenshire, Meldrum and Bourtie Church runs a service on Monday until Wednesday from 11am-4pm. The opening hours could be extended if there is demand.
A number of church halls in Moray are being used as warm hubs including the building attached to Spynie Kirk which is open on Thursdays from 10am – 4pm.
Inverurie West Church in Inverurie is running a project in its chapel from Tuesday – Saturday, 9am – 4pm. People can access the wi-fi and enjoy tea and coffee and surplus goodies from the church cafe.
On Orkney, St Margaret's Church is open every weekday and people in need of help from South Ronaldsay and Burray are welcome, although children must be accompanied.
Dr Greenshields said: "It is obscene that low-income families and individuals are being forced to choose between heating their homes and putting food on the table in 21st century Britain due to political choices.
"Church members already help run food banks and food larders across the country and are determined to do more to help those who need it most in a practical way but we pray that the emergency provision of warm spaces is an exceptional one-off situation and does not become the norm.
"In May, the General Assembly appealed to the UK Government to do everything in its power to help redress the imbalance between those with great wealth and those struggling against poverty.
"Energy companies should be taxed on unearned profits to address the crisis of fuel poverty across the UK to help make our national life fairer and more just and welfare benefits should be raised by at least the rate of inflation."
People can visit Warm Welcome UK to find a place near them where they can go.
Congregations considering offering a warming place can find current Safeguarding advice on the Safeguarding latest news page.