Wolverhampton church to be 'warm space' despite its own utility bills soaring

A Wolverhampton church has said it will continue to help provide services for people despite facing rising costs itself.

The Rev David Wright shares a cup of tea with Edith Stone. The church will be opening up to provide a warm place for people.
The Rev David Wright shares a cup of tea with Edith Stone. The church will be opening up to provide a warm place for people.

St Peter's Church in Wolverhampton has been a centre of the community throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and during the cost-of-living crisis, working alongside the Good Shepherd homeless charity to provide help for people.

It has been an unofficial drop-off point for food and toiletries by people, making frequent trips from the church to the Good Shepherd headquarters on Waterloo Road, and referring people who require help with homes or other issues.

The rector of the church, the Rev David Wright, said it was part of the community work by the church to help others.

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He said: "We will get things donated and keep them in the office until we have a boot load that we can drive down, and we always ask that people donate packets and tinned food and stuff that won't deteriorate.

"I think it does fit our community ethos and is something we try and keep simple, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel or do something somebody's already doing brilliantly, and we will always direct people to the Good Shepherd if they need help.

"We do also encourage people to make donations of all sorts of things for Harvest, which is on October 9, and around times like Christmas, when we are collecting again for the Good Shepherd."

Rev. David Wright said the ethos of the church was to help people and provide a place for all

Rev Wright said the work the church did was part of, as Christians, caring for one another and looking after some of the most vulnerable people in society, particularly homeless people and people who are struggling to feed themselves.

He said that work would continue through the autumn and winter as the church would open up to provide a warm place for people to go to if they needed somewhere warm to go.

He said the idea had come after seeing how large the utility bill was set to become for the next year and deciding to commit to providing that service to people.

He said: "Like everybody, we've been hit by a massive increase in our utility bills, which was around £23,000 for last year for gas and electric, but we anticipate it being around £55,000 to £60,000.

"That gave us a choice of either turning off the lights, closing the doors and switching off the heating, or saying that as part of the community, we commit to being open for people.

"We decided to stay open for people, so will have the lights on and the heating going and we want to let people know that they are always welcome to come in when we're open to sit, read or bring their lunch, and we'll provide a hot drink if people want one."

Rev. David Wright fills a bag with some of the donations made to the church

Rev Wright said the plan would mean looking at ways to minimise utility usage and maximise revenue sources, but said that despite the burden, it would remain committed to helping people.

He said: "The whole ethos of the church is that we're here for everyone, with no judgement made on faith or background and we're going to encourage people that if they are struggling to heat their own homes, they are welcome to come here.

"We are a working church, of course, so people will see things going on around them, such as services and choir practices, but I hope it will provide an interesting insight into what goes on everyday in a church.

"Things like this are vital as people are being hit by the double whammy of food and utility bills going up and facing the dilemma of whether to heat or eat and it is absolutely vital that we do what we can to help them."

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