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Hot buttered toast, hot coffee and a warm welcome: A visit to a Warm Space venue in Pontnewydd

Ken and Helen Hunt
Ken and Helen Hunt volunteer at Warm Spaces in Holy Trinity Church

A hot drink and a bite to eat can warm you up inside. Throw in a good chat with a friend or stranger and you have scored the hat-trick for feeling good all over.

Within five minutes of arriving in the Trinity Room around the back of Holy Trinity Church in Pontnewydd I had been served up all three. Ken and Helen Hunt, the two volunteers running the Warm Space session, greeted me on arrival with big smiles across their faces.

Ken disappeared into the kitchen and returned with a slice of hot toast, some butter, and marmalade. Thank you!

Warm spaces are popping up all over the country. They are simply venues that open their doors and welcome anyone in for a cuppa and a drink. The rising energy prices are a worry for many people so being able to spend a couple of hours socialising in a venue that is warm is a bonus.

This church opened its doors as a warm space on Thursday 13 October and welcomes visitors on the same day each week from 10am to 1pm. Volunteers from the church’s congregation take turns to open up, pop the kettle on and make everyone feel welcome.

Ken said: “It’s trying to help to bring the community back together. Just pop out and come in.”

Helen said: “It’s not just about people who can’t afford heat, it’s for people from all walks of life. People who are on their own and want a cup of tea and a natter. You get in a rut and it’s hard to get out of a rut. It’s being manned and we are here if you need us.”

There were five people in the Trinity Room during my visit. They spent the hour chit-chatting and sharing stories with the couple. Helen was busy knitting whilst talking to the others. The items she makes help raise money for the church.

Ken said people are welcome to bring a friend or their children. The room has a TV, radio, jigsaws and board games. The session is open to anyone. You can use the time to work on a hobby, share something you enjoy, talk or just sit and relax.

Ken said: “Every single person on the planet has a talent, even just listening to people (is a talent). Just come along.”

The church’s Platinum Jubilee Party in June 2022 attracted over 60 people. Ken said this was an important step to start “bringing people back together”. But he knows many residents aren’t online so also uses local radio (Ken presents a show on Vitalize Radio- Ken’s Baroque’nRoll Show from 11am to 1pm ) to encourage people to tell their relatives and neighbours about warm spaces in the area.

We chatted about music, local radio, areas we used to live in, Cwmbran town centre and many more topics. The 90 minutes felt like ten minutes. Talking to others has a positive effect on your physical and mental wellbeing. After adding to that a short stroll through the beautiful church gardens (see the photo below) I knew I would be in a good mood for the rest of the day.

Helen said:  “The biggest activity here is talking.” Ken added: “That’s the most important one.”

The good news is they hope to continue the weekly session even after the weather warms up in 2023 and this could include some meetings outside in the church gardens.

Holy Trinity Church in Pontnewydd
Holy Trinity Church in Pontnewydd

The church is run by Reverend Sue Hobbs

Ken said: “Sue is brilliant. She leads by example and is one of the warmest and funniest people we have ever come across. The welcome in the morning is wonderful.”

Click here to follow Holy Trinity Church’s Facebook page.

Warm Spaces in Pontnewydd

a poster for warm spaces
There is a Warm Space in Pontnewydd from Monday to Friday

Where is Holy Trinity Church in Pontnewydd?

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Hot buttered toast, hot coffee and a warm welcome: A visit to a Warm Space venue in Pontnewydd