By Vatican News staff reporter
As the energy and cost-of-living crisis begin to bite, churches, libraries, businesses, and other faith groups across the UK are opening their doors to provide a warm, safe and welcoming space to people who can't afford heating their homes this winter.
The initiative is part of the “Warm Welcome Campaign” launched by the ecumenical organization “ChurchWorks”, in partership with several charities and community organizations, to make sure that nobody is left to suffer on their own ithis winter.
7 million homes with no heating this winter
Recent statistics indicate that 16.4 million people in Great Britain will be living in the cold in the coming months and 7 million homes will not have heating – that is double the number of 2020.
According to the network, although the British government has introduced support schemes to protect against soaring energy prices, they still won’t be sufficient for many people struggling to pay their bills.
The "Warm Welcome Campaign" website offers an interactive map to help people find the closest warm place to go in their neighbourhood, as well as instructions for organizations who wish to join on how to register their “warm spaces”, or contribute financially to the project. So far some 3,000 groups have joined.
Catholic dioceses and organizations joining the campaign
One of the many registered partners of the campaign is Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN), the official agency of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) for domestic social action, which in recent months has also been campaigning for the immediate uprating of public benefits in line with inflation.
Some Catholic dioceses have also joined the campaign. The Archdiocese of Liverpool has announced it is opening its parish centres for people to drop in and enjoy free tea, coffee and biscuits along with access to TV and wi-fi and most important of all some friendly company. Each of the centres will be open on different days of the week from 1.00 pm to 3.30 p.m. and the archdiocese has liaised with other community groups to try and ensure that people have somewhere to go everyday during the winter months.
Caritas Westminster, in central London, is granting 1,000 Pounds to parishes and groups willing to offer their warm spaces.
The campaign recently received a boost from "The Mirror" newspaper, which has invited readers to raise funds for the project. Former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown backed the appeal, saying the current crisis is a “moral issue”, that calls for the responsibility of all “to those who have the least and whose needs are the greatest.”