Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland has joined with the Warm Welcome Campaign as its Volunteering Partner for 2023/24, bringing Rotary’s volunteering expertise to support and grow volunteering in the local warm spaces across the country. Warm spaces will soon be opening their doors to everyone struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and experiencing isolation over the tough winter ahead.
Rotary has 34,000 members in over 1,500 clubs in Great Britain and Ireland who volunteer their time and talents to tackle challenges at home and abroad. Rotary is bringing its knowledge and good practice in volunteering to support thousands of warm spaces who rely on volunteers to deliver lifeline support to local communities. When the clocks go back, warm spaces, powered by volunteers will open their doors to their local communities, offering everyone a friendly space to keep warm, connect, and make new friends.
The Warm Welcome Campaign, set up last winter to respond to the worst cost-of-living crisis in 70 years, is now preparing for a tough winter ahead to support everyone struggling to pay for food and keep themselves warm this winter. Food prices are still rising and when the temperature drops the prospect of paying for energy bills makes staying financially afloat seem like an impossible challenge. That’s why more warm spaces and volunteers are urgently needed to support growing numbers of people living in poverty and experiencing loneliness and isolation.
Last year over 17,000 volunteers gave their free time and talent every week to support local people at warm spaces across the country. Yet 18% of warm spaces said that attracting volunteers was a major barrier to keeping their space open. Rotary’s longstanding expertise in volunteering will help to bridge that gap, by sharing good practice, drawing on their community and networks and connecting warm spaces with local volunteers. This year, Warm Welcome Campaign’s volunteering resources and online volunteering map have been developed in partnership with Rotary.
Amanda Watkin, General Secretary of Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland, on how they’ll be getting involved in the campaign:
“At Rotary we pride ourselves on being rooted within our local communities, working with them to tackle today’s needs and tomorrow’s challenges. Whether it is running or volunteering at Warm Welcome Spaces in their local area, or using their networks to promote spaces to those who need it, our volunteer members will be stepping up this winter. As well as supporting visitors to spaces, we’re also excited to be sharing our expertise to enhance the volunteer experience as part of this partnership.”
Brenda Parsons, a member of Rotary who helped facilitate a Warm Space in Bromley last winter, said:
“Our Warm Space was open to anyone in our local area. A cross-community collaboration, led by Rotary and supported by Orpington Methodist Church, and local organisations meant we were able to turn an existing fortnightly Wellbeing Café into a weekly one. We collected and distributed warm clothing, hosted chat buddy groups and knitting classes. It was so worthwhile.”
John Struthers, volunteer at St Andrew’s Church, Leytonstone shares why being a volunteer is so rewarding:
“I’m excited to work at this warm space this winter because I’ve seen the change it has in people. I see how people come in through the door, new to the space, scouring, shoulders down. But being here for a few weeks, how they get lifted, meeting new people, sharing experiences.”
David Barclay, Campaign Director for Warm Welcome, shares his excitement at the new strategic partnership:
“Volunteers are the lifeblood of Warm Spaces, but recruiting and retaining them is also one of the biggest challenges for local groups. That’s why we’re so excited by the potential of our partnership with Rotary. Through our new volunteer map and matching work, we believe we can help many more volunteers experience the joy and fulfilment of creating a warm and welcoming space in their local community.”
The Warm Welcome Campaign is open to any organisation or community group that has the space to create a welcoming place for people in their communities who are lonely, struggling with the cost-of- living crisis, or just want to connect with their community. Warm spaces come in all shapes and sizes including community centres, libraries, art centres, local businesses, schools, places of worship, and anywhere that has room to host a Warm Space. The campaign has a bold ambition to grow the network of Warm Welcome Spaces in every part of the UK, so everyone can access a space to keep warm, connect with others, make new friends, and feel part of their local community. You can register your warm space here and find out more about Rotary and Warm Welcome’s volunteering partnership: https://www.warmwelcome.uk/volunteers