Faith groups suggest opening religious buildings as warm spaces this winter

Posted On 21 Sep 2022 at 11:51 am

Brighton’s places of worship could open up warm spaces to help people cope with rising energy bills this winter.

Churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship could open the doors to their halls and spaces as safe, heated places for those struggling with bills over the coming months.

Brighton and Hove Faith in Action (BHFA) proposed opening religious spaces as non-judgemental warm places of refuge.

Pam Mitchell from BHFA said she knows of at least one church who wants to help people over the winter months but cannot pay its elevated fuel bill.

Rabbi Gabriel Kanter-Webber from Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue said that options are being urgently looked into at a number of Jewish community spaces, subject to volunteers.

Rabbi Kanter-Webber said: “In particular, we’re looking into whether families with school-age children might need an open building after school, especially given that home wi-fi may be a luxury for those who are struggling with heating bills.

“A number of families who are doing okay financially have offered to donate their £400 government energy rebate to the synagogue to help cover the costs of extended opening.

“This seems like a really powerful way for the congregation to be supporting its most vulnerable members.”

The BHFA meeting called for more collaboration and support for faith-based services to share their resources, and suggested calling on the support of business sponsors to help with energy bills.

Tim Jones from Christian Action Brighton says that their plan is to compile a directory of opening times for church buildings across the city and have this available on the website from the beginning of November.

Council leader Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty said: “The energy and cost of living crisis is already extremely hard for many people in our city.

“We’re looking at all possibilities available to us to help people as the colder months approach. We know only too well that the heaviest burden for this crisis falls on those who are least well off.

“We are exploring all options with our community partners to provide the best support we can. This includes exploring the practicalities of using council and community facilities as ‘warm spaces’ in the winter.

“However, we know that what people really need is support to heat their homes and feed themselves and their families. We’re continuing to lobby government to provide more support during this period.

“We all need clarity from government on the support they will be offering both to individuals and via councils, for example, through the next tranche of the Household Support Fund.

“We are also conscious of the potential impact on businesses in the city and want to support efforts to highlight this serious problem and seek further government concessions and reliefs.”

  1. I’m very cold Reply

    Really you ever been in a warm church ?

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