A beacon of light in Walthamstow

April 2024

My name is Averil Pooten-Watan. I am a churchwarden from St Barnabas and St James the Greater, in East London. It really is a privilege and honour share a heart-warming story of hope, connection, and community at the Warm Space in Stafford Hall, a beacon of light in our beloved St Barnabas and St James Church in Walthamstow.

For 120 years, St Barnabas Church has been a place of welcome, fellowship, and hospitality, a sacred space where all are embraced with open arms. This legacy continues to shine brightly through the Warm Space initiative, where we continue to extend our arms and welcome all.

Let me introduce you to Theo, a young adult who quite literally stumbled upon our Warm Space 18 months ago after visiting his grandmother nearby. Theo, with his learning difficulties, found himself feeling incredibly lonely as his family (parents and siblings) moved to Cyprus. However, since finding his way to us, Theo has not only found shelter but a true sense of belonging and community.

Another friend is Mavis. Mavis is 75 years old. She is a member of our church. Like Theo, Mavis, lives alone. She suffered a terrible fall last September. Yet, Mavis has almost recovered completely, having attended the weekly free chair exercises and building up to the walking group, and now attends the full on zumba classes - all activities offered free and taking place in the Warm Space. 

Lastly, Angela. A local mum from the Peabody estate. She has a heart condition and takes care of her young teenager. Prior to the Warm Space, she had been struggling with her mental health. She’s relatively young but since her long-term heart condition meant she couldn’t work full time, she was feeling despondent. Since attending the Warm Space and volunteering with the parent and baby group, she’s been able to socialise with others; also by volunteering in the parent and baby activity she has put her former skills as a nursery assistant into practice, too. Lastly, she recently encouraged her teenage daughter to become baptised in church. She’s also started attending Alpha and has asked to join the electoral roll!

The stories of Theo, Mavis and Angela are a testament to the power of compassion and inclusion. It reminds us that within the building walls, we don't just offer warmth from the cold; we offer warmth for the soul. 

We thank the Good Faith partnership for inviting us St. Paul’s this week to share the stories of our Warm Space. A place where all are truly seen, heard, and valued.

Thank you for being a part of this incredible journey with us. Together, we can create a world where everyone feels at home. Thank you.

*Names have been anonymised.

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