Gordon Brown amongst those encouraging churches to step in the gap for their local communities as Warm Welcome centres this winter.
A new initiative, launched this week by the ChurchWorks Commission, aims to build a network of thousands of community spaces across the UK that will provide places of warmth and support for those struggling to heat their homes as prices soar.
The ‘Warm Welcome’ campaign is urging churches and community centers to help the forecasted 1 in 4 peoplewho won't be able to afford their new energy bills in October, despite the recently announced price cap. Currently over 1000 churches are signed up, but organisers say hundreds more are needed to ensure that on any day of the week, those who in need can find a warm location and a friendly welcome for free in their local area.
The project is backed by former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown who will speak at the official launch event for the campaign on Wednesday 28th September. Churches and individuals who are interested in pledging their support are encouraged to attend the online event, which will also hear testimonies of churches already committing their spaces to provide hope for their communities.
The Right Honorable Gordon Brown says, “This crisis goes far beyond politics; this is a moral issue - our responsibilities to our neighbours and in particular to those who have the least and whose needs are the greatest.”
The Warm Welcome campaign brings together denominations and organisations from across the UK including the Church of England, Catholic Church, Baptist Union, Methodist Church, Church Urban Fund, Christians Against Poverty UK, Edge Ministries, and The Salvation Army, among others, all coordinated by the ChurchWorks Commission.
Paul Butler, The Bishop of Durham and Chair of the ChurchWorks Commission says, “Over the last few years, we have seen inspiring and meaningful action from churches across the UK stepping up to help those most vulnerable. Through the Covid-19 pandemic, the Church responded quickly and creatively. Now, during another national crisis, churches and community centres need to once again step up by being places of Warm Welcome in their localities. As bills increase, even with government support, millions will be affected and unable to afford basics. Churches and community groups are perfectly positioned to help those who need a place of warmth and welcome, but if we are truly going to make an impact on a national level, we need hundreds of groups to pledge their space.”
The Energy Price Guarantee means unit rates for electricity and gas are capped, so the average annual bill is likely to be about £2,500, but consumers will still be charged on usage, with no limit on the annual charge. Community organisations and churches across the UK have already seen increased demand for their services and anticipate this number to further rise over the winter months with many people expected to look for support for the first time.
As the temperatures fall, the impact of the price rise will be most evident to the most vulnerable, with many forced to choose between eating or turning on their heating.
Mike* says, "It has got harder and harder with gas, electric and food going up. You start noticing your money is going nowhere. I'm really frightened about this winter - I'm dreading it. When winter comes everything is going up by another 40% - that will be the end of us. I think a lot of people will be freezing to death because you're choosing between food and heating.”
To find out more, pledge your church or community centre as a place of Warm Welcome, or sign up for the webinar on Wednesday 28th September, visit: warmwelcome.uk
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For more information about the Warm Welcome Campaign please visit:
NOTES TO EDITOR
About Warm Welcome Campaign
The Warm Welcome Campaign is the community response to the cost-of-living crisis.
The project is determined to equip and support thousands of free, warm, and welcoming spaces in communities across the UK. Working with churches and other faith groups, civil society organisations, businesses and Local Authorities, they want to make sure that nobody is left to suffer on their own this winter.
About The ChurchWorks Commission
The ChurchWorks Commission, launched in October 2021 to explore the Church’s role in national Covid recovery. Bringing together all major Christian denominations and the government, ChurchWorks facilitate strategic conversations about the Church’s role in Covid recovery.
They are a network of 1,200 local churches and over 40 denominations and partners who have joined together to restore hope, renew community and now to help churches to tackle injustice in the wake of COVID. Knowing the local church is the hope of the nation, these conversations will unite the Church in showcasing its transformative work in communities.
For more information, please visit: yourneighbour.org/churchworks
Carl Beech, CEO of Edge Ministries, says, “There’s little doubt that we are heading towards a moment of crisis this winter in the face of energy and fuel inflation. People will be facing a stark choice between food and warmth. Creating warm and super welcoming spaces full of love, life and community is going to be an absolute necessity. We’re encouraging as many community groups as possible to get involved. It will make an incredible difference to people's lives.”
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