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Christ Church with St John's 'Living Room'

First published on: 27th November 2023

Warm Spaces are places where people can come and find support, company, and warmth - something which is more essential than ever with the current cost of living crisis. The 'Living Room' at Christ Church with St John's is a thriving Warm Space and a great example of what can be achieved with the help of grants.

It began last year, when along with Trinity Baptist Church and the ABD Community Centre, Christ Church with St John responded to the energy price increase and cost of living crisis by providing a Warm Space in Bacup.

Trinity Baptist ran it on Mondays, Christ Church with St John ran it on Wednesdays and the ABD Centre on Fridays.

Rev'd Janet O'Neill, Team Vicar in Rossendale says of the project:

"Although Living Room was open to everyone, we decided to run it after school time as we recognised that local families were really struggling. So, during term-time on Wednesdays, we offered free drinks, a meal, games and crafts. Over the winter months we had around 50 guests each week.

We were able to run because of some truly fabulous volunteers from Christ Church and Holy Trinity, Stacksteads. They are all absolute superstars. 

The families that joined us told us they loved coming along on Wednesdays. Some of the adults said it was the first time they'd spoken to another adult in days; others said it was a great chance to play games or do crafts with their children as they didn't get this chance at home. The children loved it too! I take assemblies at one of our local schools and after I'd finished, some of the children would ask me what's for tea that night! They call it their Wednesday Club.

The initial plan was for the three warm spaces in Bacup to have finished by March, but my colleague Rev'd Laura Allen and I had such a strong sense God was calling us to continue with the groups. Not long after I arrived in Rossendale, I asked my churches to do some 'visioning', to prayerfully reflect on where we see God leading us. The main need that arose from this was to reach out to young families and children; we think with Living Room, God answered our prayer! 

Trinity Baptist and the ABD Centre closed their Warm Spaces, but we carried on, and it's thriving! We now get between 50 and 70 people attending each week. We have been blessed by grants we've applied for, but this is a commitment Christ Church PCC wants to make to our community. As I said earlier, none of it would be possible without the incredible volunteers who give so much of their time and skills. No one would want me cooking for them each week!

Living Room also now has a more intentional Christian aspect to it. With developing relationships, people had been sharing their worries and concerns, and along with pointing to help that might be available, we always offered prayer. We also have a prayer box where people can request prayer, and we have a Living Room prayer that we finish each session with. The children love joining in with this! Many families also come to our other events, especially our 'Make 'n' Take' seasonal events (which is a bit like Messy Church). It's so good to welcome them to other aspects of our church life!"

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