As social isolation and loneliness continue to rise nationwide, WRCC believes it’s more important than ever to help our vulnerable residents living in villages and rural areas. Many were struggling before the coronavirus pandemic and, even when life returns to “normal”, will continue to suffer due to local transport cutbacks, insufficient affordable housing, lack of local employment and, increasingly, fuel poverty.
People of all ages and backgrounds are at risk. Such as elderly people who feel the cold but can’t afford to heat their former family home and so live in one room. Or a parent who has to rely on a limited bus service for the school run or to go shopping. Or a disabled person who can’t find suitable local work and so spends most of their time at home, on their own. And loneliness can so often lead to depression, anxiety and additional health complications.
So WRCC is bringing Warm Hubs to Warwickshire and Solihull to encourage communities to come together and support all their members, particularly those most at risk of loneliness and hardship. And there’s lots we can achieve while still following social distancing and all necessary Covid-19 related requirements!
We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Cadent Gas to support this vital community initiative and we will also be collaborating with other voluntary and development organisations to help create closer communities in rural areas.
What is a Warm Hub and who can apply?
A Warm Hub is an affordable, inclusive activity run for the community by the community, in a warm and safe space like a village hall (though we’re supporting virtual and mobile options, too). We’re keen to hear from people who can offer new and additional ways to improve residents’ wellbeing. Each community will have its own specific needs but here are a few examples:
- Village hall committees setting up breakfast or lunch clubs, which may include takeaway or delivery options for those unable to attend
- Community groups starting a dementia cafe with additional support for carers
- “Repair shop” groups teaching teenagers and young adults practical repair skills and encouraging recycling
- Cookery clubs showing children and parents how to prepare healthy meals on a budget
Additional benefits of Warm Hubs
As well as helping to reduce social isolation and loneliness, Warm Hubs – which can only be accredited by WRCC in Warwickshire and Solihull – offer other benefits (including possible funding opportunities). Village hall management committees get free advice and may be able to upgrade relevant facilities, eg kitchen equipment, insulation and heating. Group organisers can promote accredited activities to reassure attendees that they’re run in supportive, well managed venues. And they put people in touch with free independent advice on issues such as energy efficiency, fuel affordability and practical tips on keeping warm and safe at home.
Warm Hubs launch
Warwickshire’s first Warm Hub was launched at Shotteswell Village Hall on 13th December 2020. The Committee had originally planned to hold a large community breakfast, but this was rapidly switched to a permitted delivery/collection event when Warwickshire went into Tier 3, with appropriate social distancing measures in place to keep everyone safe. Local MP Jeremy Wright and volunteers from Cadent and WRCC helped to deliver some of the 126 cooked breakfasts to village residents. Read more about this inclusive community event here.
Whether you’re working in community development, you’re a village hall committee member or a local group leader, you’ve got a great idea for a Warm Hub or you’d just like to find out more, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!