Warm spaces in Leeds: How Pudsey Wellbeing Centre has created a 'nurturing' space to combat social isolation
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Established in 2013, Pudsey Wellbeing Centre aims to support people with their mental, emotional and physical health through the 23 different activities that it offers. In recent months, the centre has also signed up to the Leeds City Council’s ‘warm spaces’ scheme as it invites residents in for a hot drink and a chat every weekday.
Jane Batham, the centre’s strategic development officer, said: “With the cost of living crisis, it’s a really lovely way to get people in and for people to not feel so lonely and isolated. We have the regulars that come in but we also see new people who come in. It is wonderful to see people are open to trying new things. It’s so brilliant that the council have supported us with this so that we can provide this service for people.”
A survey run by the centre found visitors valued the sense of togetherness that the space brings, said Jane. She added: “A few of them have been widowed, or divorced, or experienced some sort of trauma, and that has been a difficult time of their life. This is somewhere where they can come and there’s no judgement or pressure to take part in activities if they don’t feel comfortable.”
Maureen Riley, 82, lost her husband last year and currently lives on her own. She attends the warm spaces sessions whenever she can, saying: “To come to a place like this and meet people – it’s a nice change. You feel as though you are not on your own all the time but it’s just having the confidence to come when you don’t know anybody. It’s nice to have places like these, because there aren’t many and a lot of people are isolated.”
Another warm space user is Kathleen Atkins, 53, who often gets involved in activities and outings the centre has to offer. She said: “I didn’t have a job at that time and I used to come for a cup of coffee. Mainly, I just came to meet other people – it’s nice, it’s warm, and the volunteers are always really friendly.”
Manager Jill Huggins said: “It is a non-threatening, welcoming and nurturing space. People don’t feel intimidated to walk in here. If these people didn’t come in, they probably wouldn’t see anyone else that week.”
The centre was recently granted £105,000 by the National Lottery Community Fund to help fund its activities. Jane said “it was just what the centre needed” to keep running services and work with other organisations in the area as they try to meet the needs of the local community.
The team also hopes to expand the range of events offered as the year goes on. They currently host musical, youth, craft and language groups as well as more specialised groups such as those for people living with dementia or looking for support with breastfeeding.