Warm Welcome Spaces become NHS Wellbeing Hubs

July 2024

Two warm spaces in the west of Lincolnshire have been transformed into NHS Wellbeing Hubs.

Helped by Mike Farley, Community Connector for Lincolnshire Community Mental Health & Wellbeing Transformation Programme based at Bridge Church in Lincoln, this work is enabling a community response to the issue of loneliness, fostering connection and wellbeing in both town and rural areas.

The hubs, in Waddington and Ruskington, have successfully accessed funding, assigned to Community Connectors, from the local integrated care board (ICB), part of the Integrated care system of NHS Lincolnshire responsible for the commissioning of health services for its local population.

Mike explains: “Around April last year, we had a meeting with one of the commissioners, and he outlined the now commissioned streams of funding, which had been part of the ongoing discussions Connectors in the west of the county had been having with the transformation team.”

Both Waddington and Ruskington already had Warm Welcome Spaces running in them.

Craft activity Bridge Wellbeing cafe Bridge Church Lincoln

“I put in a speculative bid in for a Winter Pressures pot of funding and was successful,” says Mike. “And so I went to Simon Dean, vicar of St Michael’s Church in Waddington. I have known Simon for many years him, and I knew I could open up a conversation.  At St Michael’s, Simon has developed a number of local community initiatives, including a simple food sharing project.  When the Wellbeing Hub funding came, Waddington, geographically, was the right place.  Relationally, it was the right place, and there was a warm space already in action.”

Rev Simon says: “We set up the Warm Welcome Space as part of the response to the cost of living crisis. We managed to get some funding from the diocese, because the national Church of England had given money to each diocese to support churches with heating costs. We got some money from Mike, and we got another grant elsewhere to be able to basically open up our space.”

Realising that the Warm Welcome Space wasn’t the right fit for young people visiting after school, or those struggling with the cost of living, the Waddington Space brings older people together for connection. Simon says: “We found very quickly as well that it wasn't a response to the cost of living crisis, because they said we don't need free coffee. We just like to be able to meet with other people and find comfort in being connected with other people.”

“Then we had this conversation with Mike about exploring what a Wellbeing Hub might look like in Waddington,” Simon continues. The wellbeing hub with the Warm Welcome Space at its heart now employs someone to run it, and offers a dementia support group and a community pantry with a wellbeing drop-in due to launch and a bereavement support group is being explored.

Greening the Car Park Activity Table Bridge Wellbeing Cafe Bridge Church Lincoln

Janet Courtney of South Lincs Church has a similar story from Ruskington. There, South Lincs Church – which had a small congregation –linked with the local Anglican and Methodist churches to offer Warm Welcome Spaces on different days, with local publicity aligned so that people knew the churches were working together.

Janet explains: “It showed that a warm space was needed, but it wasn't necessarily, as Simon mentioned, for those struggling with the cost of living. It was more the company. We had some single mums along with their babies and we had some elderly folk, and it was more the company that they wanted and that they enjoyed each week.”

Likewise, Janet found their Space was increasingly signposting to other help available and, when approached by the Bridge Community Connectors about becoming a wellbeing hub, this was the natural next step for the Space. “We knew it needed to be more, because for some of these people who enjoyed that time with us, it was actually about what happened next for their needs that was important.”

“With the community hub, and the way that it is progressing, it has already opened up so much more,” says Janet.

Fiona Monk, also a connector with Bridge, was very involved in the development of the Ruskington hub. She says: “We've just been very blessed, as churches, to have this incredible funding through the NHS, which is now allowing us to go on to that next step.”

Volunteer-led activity Bridge Wellbeing Cafe Bridge Church Lincoln

Mike concludes: “In all our settings, we found that somewhere to keep warm was important, but actually, it’s different. It’s about the connection and that desire to not be as isolated or disconnected within your own community.”

The Wellbeing Hubs are now in year two of a three-year funding agreement, with expressions of interest due soon about future funding.

This is the first time the Warm Welcome Campaign has heard about Warm Welcome Spaces becoming NHS-funded wellbeing hubs. Do share your stories with us, as you have them.

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