12 December 2022

With the sudden drop in temperature, coupled with the huge cost of living increases, the thought of people not being able to heat their homes, and the detrimental impact on their health, was too much for one group to sit back and watch happen.

YMCA Thames Gateway Group are working with Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and The Skinners’ Kent Academy to provide a warm space that will offer local residents a safe and welcoming place to go, where they can be warm and get free tea, coffee and biscuits thanks to funding from Marks & Spencer.

Held in the TN2 Community Centre, Lakeside (off Greggs Wood Rd) in Tunbridge Wells, sessions will launch this week (15 December) and be every Thursday and Friday between 1pm-5pm. Students from The Skinners’ Kent Academy will be volunteering, making hot drinks and offering conversation and company.

It is hoped that the warmth of the community hub at TN2 will encourage residents to stay sociable, therefore combatting loneliness as well as the ever-growing cost of living crisis this winter.

Lorenzo Woodford, Head of Communities for YMCA Thames Gateway Group said: “As a charity, we have been adapting to the needs of the communities we service for over 150 years. The pandemic saw us do that successfully, and the cost of living crisis has thrown us another challenge that we have met. We’re so grateful to be able to work with partners who share our passion to support local people.”

One Year 12 student from The Skinners’ Kent Academy said: “I am delighted to be able to offer my time. In the current circumstances, many people are struggling to heat their homes and providing company to those who need a warm space is a great way for me to help my local community.”

Cllr Hugo Pound, Cabinet Member for Housing & Planning at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, said: “After sharing my initial idea and setting up early meetings with a range of local partners and YMCA Thames Gateway Group, together we have very quickly turned that idea into a reality. I am so heartened by the hard work and great partnership that has emerged to create this warm space. The idea of an inter-generational initiative  – school students, after-school families, the elderly and those seeking warmth and social interaction – is exactly what we need in these difficult times.”

The TN2 warm space This is free for anyone struggling to heat their home over the winter period and will be available on a drop-in basis. Please note that sessions will initially run on 15 & 16 December and will resume after the Christmas period on a Thursday & Friday from 5 January.