Warm hub volunteers fear stigma is keeping people out in the cold

  • Katie Cole reports

Warm hubs across the region are inviting people to come and make use of their facilities without a fear of shame.

With energy prices and the cost of living rising in recent months, libraries, community centres and churches have opened as spaces where people can go to stay warm, have a hot drink or meal and find company.

However, volunteers fear that some may be put off visiting because of a stigma around using them - particularly with temperatures falling.

Ryton Methodist Church in Gateshead has extended its coffee morning in a bid to help reach more people in the community. The church has also received funding from the local council to support its work.

Alison Nelmes, one of the coordinators, said: "A lot of people seem to think it's only for people who are in financial difficulty and it's really not. We'd just like everybody to come in and feel part of something.

"Whether you need to come in or want to come in, we don't discriminate at all. However you come in through that door, everybody is welcome."

Rev Dave Charter said: "We're providing a room that's heated, we've got a good number of volunteers who are here to provide hot drinks, a hot meal and a warm welcome to anyone who wants to come in and chat.

"It's for anybody who's lonely and wants a space to come and talk to others or for anybody who's struggling to heat their home and just wants somewhere to come and be warm. Anybody and everybody is welcome to come in.

"I guess if you're seen to be going into a warm space that might say to people that you are struggling, but we've got a cross section of people so that needn't be an issue for anybody."

A yellow weather warning for snow and ice remains in place for parts of the North East until Friday.

A temperature of -7C was recorded in Gateshead by the Met Office on Monday night (12 December).

Stay up to date with the latest weather warnings from the Met Office here

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