From Crisis to Community – A New Chapter for the Warm Welcome Campaign

June 2024
David Barclay

The Warm Welcome Campaign is beginning a new chapter. What started as a crisis response to keep people warm through the winter has blossomed into a movement to reconnect individuals and communities across the country all year round. And with the news that 62% of the UK population now live within a 30-minute walk of a registered Warm Welcome Space, our new 5-year strategy sets out an ambitious vision to ensure that every single person in this country has free access to welcoming community spaces. 

Warm Welcome launched in Autumn 2022, and over the last two winters has supported nearly 4,000 community spaces of all kinds to receive over 4.5 million visits between them. These Spaces have touched countless lives, transforming people’s circumstances, their sense of belonging and purpose. They have brought communities back together and revitalised diverse public spaces. In former Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s words, they have become a ‘Chain of hope’ across the UK. 

We know from our research the depth of the difference that Warm Welcome Spaces are making. More than half of guests this winter told us that without the Warm Space they would have been at home with the heating off. 84% of guests said the Space had helped them feel a stronger sense of belonging in their community. 61% said they always or often have a positive outlook on their futures, up from just 27% before coming to the Space. 

Alongside these extraordinary statistics are the innumerable stories of people who have found something deeply special in their local Warm Welcome Space. “It’s like a family,” said one guest. “We’re so close now. It makes a big difference.” “This space has become the highlight of my week,” said another. And the stories haven’t stopped with the end of winter. Just the other day a Warm Welcome Space in Leeds held a Tea Party for over 50 people. One mum they met talked about her struggles to afford school clothes for her children, so they sorted her out with a voucher that will enable her to buy new uniforms.  

It is these stories of ongoing, year-round impact and human warmth that have given us the ambition and the vision to broaden the mission of the Warm Welcome Campaign. 

Working closely with local Spaces and national partners, we have set out plans for how we can resource, connect and champion community spaces over the coming five years. At the heart of the strategy is the unifying goal of giving everyone easy access to Welcome Spaces in their neighbourhood, and we will be encouraging partner organisations of all kinds to sign up to a ‘’Warm Welcome for All’ pledge to show their support for this ambitious but achievable goal. 

This kind of partnership working has always been at the heart of how Warm Welcome has been built, and our new strategy embeds and extends this approach. We are launching our new strategy from a solid foundation of multi and cross-sector collaboration. We are so pleased to be working on exciting new partnerships which we look forward to announcing in the coming months. All of which will unlock resources for local Spaces and create a holistic ecosystem of support for vulnerable individuals and underserved communities as, in partnership, we will develop a comprehensive national infrastructure for community spaces to receive support and advice in fulfilling their vital missions. 

The growth of Warm Spaces has provided a worrying indicator of the UK’s struggles in recent years. But it is a pattern through history that great things can come from the most adverse of circumstances. In recent years we have all lived through some extraordinarily difficult times – a global pandemic, war in Europe leading to spiralling energy bills, the deepest cost of living crisis for 75 years. We believe the Warm Welcome movement represents that same creative and resilient spirit that we have seen before, drawing something beautiful and momentous out of struggle and suffering.  

So, as we embark on this new chapter of Warm Welcome, we are encouraging and inviting all community spaces to register with us for free through our website, and any regional or national organisations who share our vision to join our call for a Warm Welcome for All.

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