Inside a Birmingham warm bank helping local people as energy bills rise

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Birmingham City Council has opened eight warm banks with the help of local community organisations to help Brummies combat the cost of living crisis

The cost of living crisis and high energy bills has led to the establishment of so-called ‘warm banks’ across the country - with eight now in use in Birmingham, where they are also being called Warm Welcome centres.

BirminghamWorld went along to one at Spitfire House in Castle Vale where one has been set up to help those who are vulnerable - with the support of Birmingham City Council.

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Energy bills have doubled from what they were at the start of the year, and millions are set to suffer the consequences. While political solutions seem elusive, communities in the region have come together to take matters into their own hands and help those who are vulnerable.

As well as providing warmth the spaces will provide opportunities for people to take part in activities, access services and get practical advice and support on the current economic crisis, as well as meet members of their community.

The Castle Vale warm bank has welcomed friends and families since it opened. Young and old use the centre which has refreshments, clothing and flowers to create add to the community atmosphere.

Ray Goodwin, Chief Executive of Spitfire Services, speaks about the importance of warm welcome initiatives in BirminghamRay Goodwin, Chief Executive of Spitfire Services, speaks about the importance of warm welcome initiatives in Birmingham
Ray Goodwin, Chief Executive of Spitfire Services, speaks about the importance of warm welcome initiatives in Birmingham | Local TV

Ray Goodwin, Chief Executive of Spitfire Services, says: “It’s really, really important that what we do is actually provide a response. That means that people feel welcome. People feel that, you know, they’ve got somewhere to go. And really, that we are supporting this community to get through what this crisis is.”

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Cllr John Cotton, cabinet minister, says: “I think this, again, shows the real power and depth of community spirit right across our city. We’ve had loads of community organisations, faith groups, and others come forward since we launched the warm welcome campaign, offering their community spaces to participate and give support to people in their neighbourhoods and their communities.”

Cllr John Cotton, cabinet minister, speaks about the importance of community initiatives during the cost of living crisisCllr John Cotton, cabinet minister, speaks about the importance of community initiatives during the cost of living crisis
Cllr John Cotton, cabinet minister, speaks about the importance of community initiatives during the cost of living crisis | Local TV

Cllr John Cotton added: “So certainly go on to the Birmingham City Council website birmingham.gov.uk to access details of - firstly - the warm welcome hubs that are available in your community. And also you can access advice and support and a whole range of things - from access to benefits through to financial advice as well. We’ve tried to do everything that we can to ensure that people get the help and support that they need through what we know is going to be a very tough time for so many right across Birmingham right now.”

Warm Bank in Castle Vale, BirminghamWarm Bank in Castle Vale, Birmingham
Warm Bank in Castle Vale, Birmingham | LTV

Where can I find a warm bank near me and how do I register to use one?

So far, the council has set up eight Warm Welcome Centres across Birmingham, although more are also expected to open in the future. At the moment, the hubs are located at:

  • Beeches Pool and Fitness Centre, Perry Barr
  • Billesley Tennis and Fitness Centre, Billesley
  • Ladywood Leisure Centre, Ladywood
  • NAF (Northfield Arts Forum) Caf, Northfield
  • Northfield Leisure Centre, Northfield
  • Spitfire Advice and Support Service, Castle Vale
  • Stechford Leisure Centre, Stechford
  • Wyndley Leisure Centre, Sutton Coldfield

You can register to use one by completing an online form here

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