"I look forward to Mondays" - Alan's story

March 2024

Alan has been visiting his Warm Space at Knowle Methodist Church in Bristol for a couple of years, then his experience changed with Helen from Purple Shoots arriving to show people how to cook simple, healthy snacks. This is his story:

It gives me great pleasure to write about the Warm Space here in Knowle, Bristol which I have attended more or less since it has started. Like most of these warm spaces, it’s a place where people can come, have food and hot drinks, plus get ‘warm’ during the coldest months of the year.

People bring their friends, others, like myself, come along on their own. These meetings create an opportunity to meet other people, you could say, strangers. Not everyone wants to do that, and some are happy to sit with their regular group of friends, as I was, drinking coffee, and putting the world to rights.


The routine changes with a new activity
Alan (centre) enjoys a cookery lesson with other Warm Welcome visitors

This changed on 22 January 2024 when Helen from PurpleShoots came to our church hall. She was going to show us how to cook simple but healthy snacks, bringing all the ingredients, and even an electric cooker with her, having driven to Bristol all the way from South Wales. That is real dedication.

She has been kind enough to be with us for the past five weeks or so and has succeeded in raising the bar in getting people involved. Her mild manner, enthusiasm and encouragement got a number of us actively involved in the preparation of these dishes, under her supervision. While we cook, people talk to complete strangers, sharing life stories, or whatever they want to talk about. Not everyone takes part, but practically everyone present will eat whatever has been made as everything is shared out.

I am a 74-year-old retired man who had a very rewarding career in the Fire Service, who lives alone. I look forward to Mondays when the ‘Warm Space’ is held here in Knowle. Helen’s beaming smile greets us as we arrive. Helen always asks at the previous week, is there anything we would like to do make, so we have a discussion. If nothing is decided she nevertheless always arrives with something in mind.

So far, we’ve made chickpea burgers, oat drop scones, pancakes (my suggestion), meatballs and fishcakes. I even asked her for tips on how to use a sewing machine – she’s on the case.


The knowledge will carry on

I know her time with us will be ending soon, which will be a great loss to us. We did a different sort of craft work last week, whereby we stencilled various pictures onto wood, and then used a sort of hot iron, burning designs into wood. That was different. Next week I understand we’re painting. I’ve not done any of these things before. I cycle, swim and go walking, but these craft and cooking events are quite relaxing.

So may I take this opportunity to thank Helen for her patience, her kindness and dedication, for us here in Knowle. Well done, Helen, and thank you from me. We will miss you, but the skills, knowledge and interaction you gave us will carry on.

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