What are Warm Hubs?

WRCC Warm Hubs are warm, safe, inclusive places where residents can expect a friendly welcome and refreshments all year round – they’re not just for winter!

People can come along on their own, or with a friend, and enjoy talking to others over a hot drink and biscuits/cake or maybe a hot meal. They can get practical tips and advice on saving energy costs and keeping safe and warm at home, and be signposted to other support organisations as may be needed. WRCC officially endorses and certifies these community-led events and activities in Warwickshire and Solihull.

Some hubs run single weekly events, some run twice weekly and others also run monthly events. We’re also starting to work with existing hubs with a range of events and activities, to help them provide more support to their communities as accredited Warm Hubs.

Young girl with a black apron standing in front of tables and chairs with people eating and drinking in a hall

Warm Hubs can focus on running lunch or breakfast clubs, community cafes or cooking sessions, craft or community shed activities, board games or bingo event, seated pilates or indoor curling sessions, after school clubs or meetups for carers – or a combination of many other activities aimed at many different attendees. The events are community led and therefore the hub organiser and their team can free to concentrate on what best suits their local community’s needs. It’s a very flexible model, but its essence can be summed up in this quote from Salford Priors Warm Hub:

“The Warm Hub is a community asset, somewhere residents of all ages can go to enjoy the company of others. It’s an ideal meeting place for those that are feeling lonely or who are suffering with the cost of living crisis. Whilst the hub provides a warm, friendly and welcoming space, it also benefits mental wellbeing. It has forged new friendships and offers energy, fire safety and other advice to the community”. 

Benefits of beoming a permanent accredited WRCC Warm Hub include: set up advice; connecting hubs with community partners and support groups, as well as with each other; access to energy saving, home safety and cost of living support; village hall advice (via Halls Together), directory listing on WRCC website; support with funding applications and more. Membership is of course free. During Winter 2022-23 and again in 2023-24 we’ve also provided additional Winter Warmth materials, such as heated throws, wearable blankets, slow cookers and thermos flasks to our 14 permanent accredited Warm Hubs, to distribute to vulnerable residents.

Following the success of our first Warm Hubs Workshop in September 2023, we’re delighted that even more many organisations and community groups are coming together to help our  Warm Hubs initiative. WRCC is working closely with organisations like Citizens Advice, Act on Energy, Better Housing Better Health, Fire and Rescue, the NHS and the British Red Cross and many others to get advisers and support out to even more of our hubs to help people.

During Winter 2023-23, WRCC again expanded its network to include seasonal Winter Warm Hubs, and there are currently 80+ hubs in our network. Hubs could apply for a Winter Warm Hub grant of up to £500 to target social isolation and the cost of living crisis, and we also provide each hub with free energy and resource advice packs and carbon monoxide alarms. Plus a range of free online training, ranging from Community Energy Champion sessions. run by National Energy Action, to Promoting your Hub, run by WRCC Warm Hubs.

And after this winter, we’re looking to double our permanent all year round Warm Hubs to up to 30, in the network. As well as continuing to build more outreach support at hubs this year, we’ll be running more sustainable food and cooking projects, plus looking at ways to tackle digital exclusion and provide more community transport support to our rural communities.

Warm Hubs Slow Cooking Courses

WRCC has worked with several local community groups to develop slow cooking courses, and is currently running a pilot series of 12 courses across Warwickshire, thanks to funding from Warwickshire County Council (as part of their Kind Communities Kind Food initiative) and slow cookers (and other resources) provided by Cadent.

These courses are running from October 2023 – April 2024, with detailed feedback being provided by attendees, and will be followed by a report on our findings and a collection of slow cooker recipes from this winter 2023-24 initiative. We hope to provide more slow cooking courses later in 2024, and are considering a range of formats and delivery options.

The current courses run over a period of 4 weeks, and each one is led by an experienced chef supported by volunteers at the venue. Attendees have to attend all the sessions and each receive a free 3.5l slow cooker, ingredients, recipes, plus a free energy and resource pack and a carbon monoxide alarm.

Slow cooking is a great way to eat healthily (with the occasional treat!) and economically, both in terms of being able to use cheaper cuts of meat and also in terms of energy use – a slow cooker costs less than 4p per hour to run. As one attendee commented, it frees up your time for doing other things – whether at home or work – and recipes are easily adaptable for someone living on their own or for a family.

WRCC is also looking at other sustainable and affordable food projects for 2024as part of our Warm Hubs project, and if you would like to discuss any ideas you may have, please contact our Warm Hubs team for further information.

Become a Warm Hub!

Would you like to support your community by joining our growing Warm Hubs network? Or would you like to meet up with an existing Warm Hub organiser who can share their experiences with you? Please call us on 01789 842182 or email warmhubs@wrccrural.org.uk.