Heckmondwike Friday Friends offers company and connection

published on 30 Jan 2024

Heckmondwike warm space

A Salvation Army warm space in Heckmondwike is offering company and connection as well as helping people save money on their energy bills. 

Friday Friends offers a warm, comfy place for people to meet to enjoy bowl of soup and hot drink, and assistance with form filling and job applications. There is also a dedicated space for parents and toddlers. 

Janet Devine, who helps run Heckmondwike Salvation Army with a team of volunteers, said: “We call it Friday Friends because it’s not only about providing a warm space for people, but it’s about companionship and tackling isolation in our communities. Many friendships have blossomed, which is lovely to see. 

“We’ve only been open a few weeks but we’re regularly getting more than 20 people. We have sofas and tables where people can sit and get help with form filling or have some lunch, as well as a play area for parents, grandparents and carers to bring young children.

Heckmondwike warm space
Volunteer Janet with MP Kim Leadbeater

“It’s nice to see people of all ages coming together in friendship and companionship. For older people who might be living alone or for new parents who are feeling isolated, it’s perfect.

“As the weather has been colder recently, people will be worrying about high energy and food bills so we hope Friday Friends helps ease the financial burden for people as well. There is no charge but people can donate if they can afford to.” 

Janet and the team transformed a space within the church and charity that had not been used since the Covid lockdowns using donations of furniture provided by Over2Hills, a local company that repurposes office supplies. 

The warm space has been well supported by local MP Kim Leadbeater, who officially opened it before Christmas and recently hosted a ‘Great Winter Get Together’ event there in honour of her sister Jo Cox, who was killed in 2016. 

Heckmondwike warm space

Mum Rhiannon, 32, who has three children, brings her two-year old son to the warm space. 

Rhiannon said: “It’s really good for my son and it gets us both out of the house. I like to get out and see people, everyone’s really nice. The local play gym is too expensive so if we didn’t have this (warm space) we’d be stuck indoors.”

Friends since they were children, Sheila and June, both 82, come every Friday.  June said: “We all meet up here, it’s the friendship and companionship we come for.”

Sheila added: “It’s nice, we have tea coffee, biscuits, and then some soup for lunch. We all like to contribute to The Salvation Army as well.” 

Ruth, who volunteers in the kitchen, said: “People come here for the companionship. I always make an effort to talk to people as I think it’s important to sit and listen and to show an interest in people’s lives. We need to be Jesus’ hands, showing that comfort to people.”  

Friday Friends is open each Friday between 10am and 2pm at Heckmondwike Salvation Army in Barrack Street WF16 0EJ. For more information search for them on Facebook. 

A Salvation Army Officer sitting and speaking with an older gentleman with a long silver beard.

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