A blog written by Alex Hartley, SELCE
Have you heard of, or engaged with, Warm Welcome Spaces? Their mission is to support organisations to open their doors and provide a warm welcome for those struggling to heat their homes this winter. They have been hugely successful, which is bittersweet.
Warm Welcome Spaces come in all different shapes and sizes, from a homework club in a local church on a Tuesday, to over an over 65's community centre drop-in on a Wednesday and library co-working desk open all weekend.
The consortia, of mostly faith based organisations initially, now has over 4,300 registered warm spaces in their website.
To find ones in your local community just plug in a place name or postcode on their website. Searches can be filtered, for example; by childcare, wheelchair accessible and whether or not food or drinks will be provided.
The reality is, right now, many people around the country are looking to shrink their home energy bills and having to leave their home to use a warm space.
Winter is coming to an end now, allegedly, but we know fuel poverty and community based energy advice is needed all year round and planning for the next cold season starts now.
Warm Welcome has been unaware of our movement so we need to reach out and see how we can be of use. To be the most effective, CE groups need to connect at the grassroots level, to reach out locally and see what can be done to help.
The opportunities for community energy
If community energy groups connect with their local Warm Welcome spaces this should open up opportunities for mutually beneficial partnerships. We might be able to provide volunteer energy champions to supplement their volunteers who are less likely to have the energy knowledge and expertise.
Other benefits could vary from making links with community venues that might need solar on their roof, an energy audit carried out, experienced energy advisors to help their stakeholders or even an community financed LED project. Deeper collaborations should lead to joint funding bids in a plethora of exciting projects based on the community needs and organisations particular strengths.
Do get in touch with anything that bears fruit.