Church becomes first warm bank provider in Merthyr Tydfil this winter

Hope Church Merthyr has teamed up with the Warm Welcome Campaign to offer a free, warm space to everyone amid the cost of living crisis

Hope Church Merthyr is located in the heart of Merthyr’s town centre (Credit: Frances Daniels)

A church is responding to the rise in fuel poverty by becoming the first place in Merthyr Tydfil to join the Warm Welcome Campaign. 

Hope Church Merthyr has registered its Out for an Hour Friendship Cafe with the Warm Welcome Campaign, a project that equips organisations to offer free, warm spaces across the UK amid the cost of living crisis.  

The church joined the campaign in November 2022 – the same month that Audit Wales published a report naming Merthyr Tydfil as the second most deprived county borough in Wales. 

Hope Church’s pantry co-ordinators Lisa Edwards and Heidi Jacobson. Jacobson runs the Out for an Hour Friendship Cafe in addition to the Hope Pantry (Credit: Hope Church Merthyr)

The church’s pantry co-ordinator, Heidi Jacobson, believes it is “really sad” that people in 2022 are worried about turning on their heating. 

“Merthyr is experiencing a fuel crisis,” says Jacobson, who runs the cafe. “So, we offer a place where people can meet other people and they’re not responsible for the heating bills to do so.”

In addition to providing a free, warm space, the cafe also offers free hot drinks, Wi-Fi, charging facilities, board games, and arts and crafts. 

Jacobson hopes the cafe will run every Monday for as long as it is needed. “The ideal would be that there is no need for a warm space because everybody can pay their heating bills,” she says. 

Ed Perry, who works with the Warm Welcome Campaign, agrees with Jacobson’s prediction. “We hope that the campaign will no longer be needed after this winter, once the weather warms up in spring,” says the charity consultant. 

The church also organises the Hope Pantry, a scheme that provides its members with items such as food and sanitary products at an affordable price.

The pantry currently has 211 members and a waiting list of 50. 

“We’ve just had to close our membership applications,” says Jacobson. “Which is something I never thought I’d have to do.” 

The churches offering warm, welcoming spaces around the city with the Warm Welcome Campaign

Wesley Methodist Church, Canton

Offers a warm space on Thursday afternoons.

Albany Road Baptist Church, Roath

Provides a child-friendly pop-up cafe on Thursdays. Visitors can pay what they feel for coffee, tea, hot chocolate and biscuits.

Woodville Baptist Church, Cathays

Provides hot drinks and other refreshments on Tuesday evenings. 

Glenwood Church Centre and Wellbeing Space, Llanedeyrn

Provides hot drinks and other refreshments on Fridays.

Rumney Chapel, Rumney

Provides a warm, welcoming space seven days a week.