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Winter Warm Hub Project- Barrow Leisure Centre

6 May 2024

  • Working in partnership

Barrow Leisure Centre utilised NHS Priority Wards Funding to help approximately 700 local residents stay well throughout winter.

In 2022, Barrow Leisure Centre was awarded funding to launch a Winter Warm Hub, a space that was open every week where local people could get a hot shower, meal and warm drink.  In addition to the community café, attendees were encouraged to take part in exercise groups at the leisure centre including walking netball and football sessions.

Sam Walton, Health and Communities Coordinator led the initiative and said “The Winter Warm Hub was and is a huge success. After seeing a large number of people take up the warm space, showers and food and drink in 2022 we have ran the campaign again this year. As we are a not for profit organisation and having a huge focus on supporting the community we feel privileged that we have been able to help those who need it the most”.

The project hoped that fewer people would go hungry or struggle with the cold weather during the winter as the cost of living rises. It also aimed to help combat loneliness by bringing people together for a chat over refreshments or meeting new people during the exercise sessions.

A regular attendee of the Winter Warm Hub said “I attended the Leisure centre café for the winter warmer project in 2022 and 2023/24. Its great for me as I can get a shower then charge my phone and have something to eat and a warm drink. It took the pressure off knowing I had somewhere to get clean and have some food and stay warm without having to put my heating on at home.”

Following the project, the Leisure centre have gone on to lead more targeted efforts within the local community including a breakfast swim club and fit and fed sessions targeting families.

The Priority Ward funding was established to encourage projects that test new approaches to address barriers in accessing healthcare, support our vulnerable community wellbeing through winter, build skills at a neighbourhood level and support voluntary organisations to look after local people.  In response to the escalating prices of food, fuel and the cost-of-living risks, along with concerns over respiratory health, it was decided that a portion of the 2022/23 fund would focus on schemes that could support our population to improve or maintain their health during winter.