Chilli Tuesdays: A place to call our own

June 2024

In June, we invited Paul Blakey to our Warm Welcome Partners Meeting to find out more about King’s Church Warm Welcome Space, and their inspiring and nourishing work with young people. King Church is one of 164 faith-based spaces that were gifted a small £1,000 grant this year, thanks to our generous funders. 

In our first year, we opened up a Warm Welcome Space to support the Ukrainian community; welcoming them and helping them to settle into a new life in Halifax. 

With the Ukrainian community feeling more at home, we wanted to explore other local needs we could support in winter 2023/24. We looked at opportunities and wanted to explore support for Calderdale College students as Kings Church is on the main route between Calderdale College and the town centre. So, we approached the local college and asked if we could help with anything. We said, “We’ve got the space, some willing volunteers and a little bit of funding, thanks to Warm Welcome, how can we help?”

We discovered that food poverty was an issue for many of the young students. Lots of young people were not eating from day to day. The college provided a great free breakfast, but some of the students weren’t in college at the right time to benefit. Space was an issue too. There was nowhere to chill out, so young people were often hanging around outside in all weathers. They didn’t have anywhere to go.

So, we came up with the idea of Chilli Tuesdays. It was a free lunch, and we started off with chilli! It wasn’t always chilli, but they loved the name so, so we stuck with it. It was a simple approach; lunch, somewhere to chill out and somewhere to play games. 

We went along to the Freshers Fair and the Mental Health Awareness Week Fair to promote it. Volunteers stood outside the college with flyers for the next couple of weeks. Word spread quickly! 

The response was amazing – students of all ages joined us. It was a huge group, at its peak 74 students joined us! We ran the sessions from 12-2pm, but the young people loved it so much they started arriving at 11.30. They really appreciated having a place to chill and all the games on offer, including basketball, football, snooker, air hockey and wrestling. More than anything they loved having a space to call their own.  We also helped them with more practical issues. Some of the young people said they didn’t eat well because they didn’t know how to cook. So, we helped them with lots of easy-to-cook recipe ideas to get them going. 

The feedback was amazing. Young people said, “It brightened up our Tuesdays.”  For some young people it was a real lifeline, especially those who hadn’t eaten a hot meal for a few days. 

It was a great experience, and wonderful opportunity for King’s Church to get to know local young people and connect with the college. We have all learnt so much. 

It’s a real success story that we want to build on. Young people tell us that they are looking forward to the return of Chilli Tuesdays come September.

Paul Blakey MBE, Development Manager for King’s Church Halifax

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