Open whatever the weather

A priest in Stoke-on-Trent switches his warm space to a ‘cool space’ in the summer, offering guests ice creams and fans rather than soup

A priest in Stoke-on-Trent has opened up his church hall as a “cool space”, having used it as a so-called warm bank during the colder months.

Fr John Stather of Christ Church Tunstall told BBC Radio 5 Live that after serving soup and hot drinks to people during the winter at their Place of Welcome, volunteers were switching to offering them ice creams.

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“We’re going to be giving people cold drinks and ice creams and helping [people] cool down,” he said. He said some initiatives set up to help bring people together and stay warm during the winter months had finished.

But he added: “Just because it’s warm weather doesn’t mean that inflation’s suddenly dropped … lots of those people who were struggling in the winter are still struggling in the summer.”

He joked that church buildings were often criticised for being cold, but when temperatures rise, a cool stone church is “a great place to chill out, physically and spiritually”.

In a separate interview he told the BBC that the warm space attracted around 12 people a week.

“It seems ridiculous to say, ‘Well, it's got a bit warmer so we'll stop meeting,’” Fr Stather said.

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