Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Warm Spaces - Look at all the (formerly) lonely people

 Some really fascinating research published in the Guardian today about Warm Hubs, which had over 500,000 users over the winter in the UK. We've had one running at St Peters Community Centre in Yeovil and tracked the footfall a couple of weeks ago, and had 230 adults over the 4 days we open (Mon-Thurs 9.30-3). The three top reasons for coming (each about 75% of users) were Hot meals, Meeting others, and Warm space/reduce energy use. 

This reflects the national figures, which show that community was just as big a factor as saving money on fuel bills for many Warm Space users:

“The biggest difference has been in reducing social isolation,” said one survey respondent. “We found those who were struggling with the cost of living crisis in financial terms didn’t particularly access us - they used the nearby foodbank more. It was the escape from an empty house that people found most gratifying about our warm space.”

The greatest impact of warm rooms, the survey found, was in providing a sense of community and tackling loneliness in a safe and welcoming space. Frequent visitors reported positive improvements in their mental health, social wellbeing, and sense of purpose. “It’s helped me cope with the hard times,” one respondent said.

Here's the startling effect on loneliness for Warm Space users:

That's a drop from 39.6% to 6.1% of those who felt 'always' or 'often' lonely, and a rise from 27% to 60% of those who felt 'rarely' or 'never' lonely. That's simply staggering. 
The good news from the survey is that many warm hubs are continuing. I hope this data is on the desk of every MP and health executive this morning, and real strategic effort goes in to making sure we keep this going. Strangely (as a Christian I should really say 'unsurprisingly') out of the grimness of the cost of living crisis, something amazing has emerged. 

1 comment:

  1. Why is it that things things which shouldn't surprise us always do? We've had the same thing here in Bedfordshire running in a couple of places, seems to have had a very positive impact.