Warm Hubs and Mobile Warm Hub

As social isolation continues to rise, WRCC believes it’s more important than ever to help our vulnerable residents, particularly those living in villages and rural areas. Many were struggling before Covid-19 and, even when life returns to “normal”, will continue to be affected for many reasons. These include limited local social activities, rural transport cutbacks, insufficient affordable housing, lack of local employment and, increasingly, fuel poverty. 

People of all ages and backgrounds are at risk. For example, elderly people who go for days without speaking to another person.  Those who feel the cold but can’t afford to heat the whole home and so live in one room. A young parent who has to rely on a limited bus service for the school run or to go shopping. Children who’ve missed out on social contact as well as learning during lockdown. A disabled person who can’t find suitable local work and spends most of their time at home. Dementia sufferers and their carers. And many more …

And being alone, or feeling there’s no one to talk to, can so often lead to depression, anxiety and significant mental and physical health problems – as well as making a bad situation even worse for those already experiencing these conditions.

So WRCC is bringing Warm Hubs and our new Mobile Warm Hub service (pictured left) to Warwickshire and Solihull to help communities target social isolation. We’re encouraging them to come together and support all their members, particularly those most at risk of loneliness and hardship. And there’s lots we can do to create closer communities while still following all necessary Covid-19 related requirements.

This important initiative is supported by Cadent Gas and, in addition to targeting social isolation and loneliness, we can help community buildings, advise people on energy efficient practices and fuel affordability, and provide access to information about a wide range of community support services.  We’re collaborating with a wide range of other Warwickshire organisations and support groups to improve the wellbeing of rural communities, particularly VASA with whom we’re partnering to provide the Mobile Warm Hub service.

What is a Warm Hub? 

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. Warm Hubs in Warwickshire and Solihull can only be accredited by WRCC and 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     

As well as helping to reduce social isolation, Warm Hubs offer other benefits. Village hall management committees get advice and support on energy efficiency and volunteer training, and may be able to access funding for  relevant facilities, eg kitchen equipment, insulation and heating. Group organisers can promote accredited activities to reassure attendees they’re run in supportive, well managed venues.

And Warm Hubs can put residents in touch with a range of community support services, as well as access to free advice on fuel affordability and tips on keeping warm and safe at home.

Shotteswell Warm Hub

Phil Burrows, Cadent and Kim Slater, WRCC holding Shotteswell Warm Hub banner

Warwickshire’s first Warm Hub was launched at Shotteswell Village Hall on 13th December 2020.

This was adapted to be a home delivery/takeaway event to comply with Tier 3 regulations then in place. Volunteers from Cadent and WRCC helped to deliver some of the 126 cooked breakfasts to residents, along with local MP Jeremy Wright. He commented: “Community volunteers in Shotteswell have been showing real community spirit and ingenuity in adapting the Warm Hub concept to the age of Covid-19. It was a real pleasure to see that warmth (and warm breakfasts) being distributed around the village”.

Read more about this event here.  And our flagship Warm Hub in Shotteswell is going strong, most recently serving its monthly community breakfast outside again (April 18th) while keeping the option of home delivery for those who preferred it, so everyone could still be invited!

You can keep up to date with our latest news via our Warm Hubs and Mobile Warm Hub newsletter (coming soon) and our blog.

Mobile Warm Hub

Our new Mobile Warm Hub service is run by WRCC and VASA working together, supported by Cadent, and is the next step in developing the Warm Hubs programme.  We have converted a WRCC Back&4th community transport minibus to help our charities reach out to more rural residents more rapidly.  The service starts on Tuesday 4th May and is visiting rural and semi-rural areas in Warwickshire and Solihull on a daily basis, Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays), supported by volunteer drivers and hosts.  Find our initial schedule below.

The Mobile Warm Hub visits selected villages and encourage people to meet and chat (allowing for Covid-19 restrictions in force at the time). We park in a suitable location, set up picnic tables and chairs, and serve free refreshments for a couple of hours. When social distancing requirements permit, up to eight people can be seated in the minibus, or six people plus a wheelchair user. We hope that as well as enjoying the chance to get out and meet others in a safe outdoor space, people will also, over time, start to come up with new ideas for local community activities.

Different communities have different needs and our Mobile Warm Hub can pay weekly visits, monthly visits or occasional stops as required, subject to availability. It can provide a welcoming space for communities while halls start to come out of lockdown – and may themselves be interested in becoming future Warm Hubs – as well as being a place for residents to meet in more remote areas with no local facilities.

The Mobile Warm Hub carries leaflets and materials about energy saving and home safety matters, as well as information on a range of other community support services. We’re collaborating with organisations across the county such as Act on Energy and the Mobile Libraries Service, and project supporters may also join us from time to time to provide helpful community information and advice.

First locations

Mondays –  10.30am – 12.30pm, Gamecock Barracks, Bramcote (fortnightly visits) plus occasional “one off” bookings – please call our number below to check availability

Tuesdays – 10.30am – 12.30pm, New Arley/Old Arley/Fillongley (weekly visits TBC)

Wednesdays – 10.00am – 12.00 noon, The Crawford Memorial Hall, Bidford (weekly visits)

Thursdays – 10.00am – 12.00 noon, The Link Community Centre, Temple Herdewyke (weekly visits)

Fridays – 10.30am – 12.30pm, Lower Quinton Village Hall (weekly visits)

Watch this space and our social media channels for updates and photos from our visits – we could be coming to your area very soon!

Next steps

Have you got a great idea for a Warm Hub, or would you like to book a Mobile Warm Hub visit to your village? Or would you just like to find out more about what we’re doing and how your community can benefit? Get in touch with us now to find out more.

For information about Warm Hubs, please email warmhubs@wrccrural.org.uk

For information about our Mobile Warm Hub, please call 01789 777986 (Mon – Thurs, 9.00am – 4.00pm; Fri 9.00am – 1.00pm, answerphone service available outside these times) or email mobilewarmhubs@vasa.org.uk.

We look forward to hearing from you!