As the ACRE representative to Buckinghamshire, we are taking part in the annual Village Halls Week to celebrate the brilliant work carried out by village halls as well as recognise their importance within our rural communities.
This year Village Halls Week (23rd to 29th January 2023) is putting the spotlight on how many of the UK’s village halls are providing warm, welcoming, and inclusive spaces for all – an important issue for many in our rural communities and particularly during the current cost-of-living crisis.
This blog from our Community Buildings Adviser, Frankie Hockham, looks at common questions on what you need to consider to set up a successful Welcoming Space.
What is a Warm Hub?
Also known as Welcoming Spaces, Warm Hubs are friendly and inclusive places for all members of the community. They are places which are safe, warm, and welcoming where people can go to enjoy the company of others – ideal if people are feeling lonely or cannot afford to heat their home.
There should be no cost to attend a Warm Hub. However, some hubs may wish to offer additional benefits, such as providing hot food or entertainment, and can ask for a contribution for people to take part.
Why are Warm Hubs needed?
The cost-of-living crisis is already affecting millions across the UK, with many reporting they will be unable to switch on the heating on in the coming months.
There is a clear need for warm and welcoming spaces for people to go to – as Buckinghamshire Council Leader, Martin Tett, commented: “We know that many people are really worried about making ends meet this winter. Even with the recent cap on energy bills, the cost of heating our homes and keeping warm is just too much for some.”*
The county’s village halls and other community buildings provide a natural access point through which to support local communities.
Where and when can they be held?
Warm Hubs can be held in a variety of spaces – from a community or church room to a village hall – but must be warm and without draughts. They are also run independently so open at different times depending on where they are being held and when the rooms are available. You can find details of the county’s Warm Hubs or Welcoming Spaces in the Buckinghamshire Online Directory.
How do I set up a Warm Hub?
Buckinghamshire Council is keen to work with the local community to develop and promote a network of places where people can be assured of finding a safe, warm, and friendly environment in which to enjoy refreshments, social activity, information and advice and the company of other people. To facilitate this, the Council has created the Community Toolkit for Welcoming Spaces, a comprehensive set of guidelines providing relevant information on what you need to consider to set up a successful Welcoming Space.
How do I fund a Warm Hub in Buckinghamshire?
If you need funding to set up your Welcoming Space, we would recommend contacting your local community board in the first instance to discuss your plans and find out whether the board can help. Visit the Buckinghamshire Council website to find the contact details for your Local Community Board Manager.
Do I have to provide transport to a Warm Hub?
Welcoming Spaces are run in the local communities to help make them as easy to attend as possible. However, access to transport or mobility issues may make it difficult for some to attend. Perhaps volunteers or people attending the Welcoming Space will be able to offer transport to others, or your area may be covered by a local community transport scheme? Check the Community Transport Hub to find out about relevant community transport schemes.
What is the best way to promote Warm Hubs?
- Word of mouth is the best (and cheapest) option.
- It is worth thinking about other tools to let people know what you are doing and how they can access your Welcoming Space. If your community has a Facebook or other online group, make sure you post details there and any other relevant social media.
- If you have a local parish or church magazine, this often has excellent reach. Don’t forget leaflets and noticeboards in the community.
- Send information to your local newspaper and radio stations, including community radio.
- Register your warm space with Buckinghamshire Council which is maintaining a list of Welcoming Spaces in the county so anyone searching for a warm space can find one close to home. See the list of Welcoming Spaces on the Buckinghamshire Council website.
How do we reduce fuel and electricity costs for our Welcoming Space?
The cost of fuel and electricity has risen enormously over the last few months and is widely expected to rise still more. Non-domestic users don’t even have the small comfort of the unit price cap that has been set for households. We want to help you get through this difficult period, and have published a Guide for reducing energy costs which contains some top tips to help you reduce your Fuel and Electricity costs during the cost-of-living crisis.
To find out how Community Impact Bucks can support your village hall, read about our Community Buildings Service on our website and visit ACRE to find out more about our national partner organisation.
*Quote from Buckinghamshire Council’s website.Back