Warm Spaces Resources: Setting up a ‘Warm Bank’ this winter
We have curated some relevant resources on setting up a Warm Space/Bank. Many community centres or churches may be considering such a venture to provide relief for those hardest hit by the cost-of-living and energy crisis as we enter the winter months.
It is the second year this initiative has been run. The Warm Welcome Campaign is once again helping groups set up, run and promote their warm space to the community.
They write “For some people, the re-emergence of Warm Spaces this winter will mark another depressing step in the UK’s ever-weakening safety net. But Campaign Director David Barclay is keen to stress that Warm Welcome Spaces have some key differences from other, more transactional forms of emergency support. “The key thing about Warm Welcome Spaces is that they are places of dignity. You don’t go there as a ‘service user’, you go there as a guest or a member, and as people get involved and get to know people they often end up becoming volunteers and hosts themselves. People help each other in Warm Welcome Spaces, and that sense of agency is crucial.””
If you are considering setting up a warm space on your premises, you will need to consider the suitability, accessibility and safety of your space.
An excellent guide has been produced by CILIP, the library and information association, which provides detailed information on getting started.
Here are 6 of the main considerations:
- Assessing the suitability of your space
- Think about location – i.e. busy city or rural community space.
- Review your energy costs.
- Consider shared users or other community groups using the space.
- Review signage.
- Ensure there is convenient travel and parking.
- Check accessibility and disabled access.
- Examine alarm systems, evacuation protocols and fire exits.
- Identify training and policies needed for volunteers, such as food safety, dementia awareness, first aid, defibrillator use, etc.
- Opening times
- Think about peak demand times.
- Consider whether you will open on evenings or weekends.
- Activities and services
- Ensure you are kitted out for what you plan on offering – i.e. Wi-Fi for working spaces, enough seating, tables or clear space for activities.
- Obtain any licenses that may be needed for regular food preparation.
- Health & Safety
- Identify the number you can safely accommodate with appropriate health and safety measures.
- Consider facilities, building and staffing capacity.
- Be aware of close contact, proximity, hygiene and building ventilation, particularly for vulnerable members of the public.
- Ensure comfortable temperatures and humidity.
- Consider distancing and appropriate layouts that make people feel comfortable and safe.
- Remove obstructions in hallways, doors and lifts.
- Make separations between different activities or settings – i.e. separating co-working or refreshments space from family spaces.
- Carry out DBS checks on workers.
- Avoid lone working.
- Take care of volunteers and staff.
- Risk management
- Perform a risk assessment of the space and planned activities.
- Check your insurance to make sure you will be covered for new activities.
Getting the word out
As well as promoting your offering through offline and online channels, there are also a few sites that list many of the community, faith organisations and churches with Warm Spaces:
You can also download Warm Welcome’s set up guide here.
They have more information as well as a finder function that you can use to add your Warm Space.
Check your local council’s website for any specific schemes, guidance or directories of Warm Banks.
For more guidance on making your warm space accessible with disabled access, visit Euan’s guide.
This is not designed to be an exhaustive guide but to signpost you to relevant resources that will help you set up a Warm Space.