Warm space
warm space
Great Yarmouth

Saturday Warm Space

You could be forgiven for never having heard of the “Saturday Warm Space.” Started only 6 months ago by the youngest church in the Great Yarmouth Borough, it’s still in its infancy. But its growth in size and impact have been much greater than its age would suggest.

I met up with Jan and Rita from Bradwell Elim Pentecostal Church, who set up the Saturday Warm Space, to find out more about how it all started.

“While I was praying I was given the words ‘warm space’” begins Jan. She goes on to explain that she didn’t know what it meant but felt that she needed to talk to local councillor Tony Wright. Whilst not quite knowing how to go about this, she and Rita ‘happened’ to bump into Tony whilst out at the beach. This catalysed a series of events which resulted in Rita and Jan putting together an application for funding for a warm space to the Norfolk Community Foundation. They had never written a funding application before, so when they were awarded £2000 it felt like confirmation that they were on the right path.

The next piece in the puzzle fell into place when Rita and Jan attended a ‘Church in the Community’ meeting (organised by Imagine Norfolk Together) and had a conversation which led them to their first venue, the Minster Mission. And so on 7th January 2023, the Saturday Warm Space opened for the first time. Later changes precipitated a move to their new venue of St George’s Café. Since their launch, without any advertising, their numbers have grown to 25 regulars plus frequent new visitors.

The starting point for the gathering was to provide for people’s physical needs: Jan and Rita had noticed that there was a gap in local provision over the weekend for giving people a warm place to attend and some food, and felt that God was calling them to “stand in the gap.” However, as they go on to explain, it has “got a momentum way beyond just handing out a cup of tea and some cake.” The gathering has grown into a community, with one couple even planning to have a second wedding reception there in the near future.

The team feel that they have been drawn to support people who are struggling, particularly with their mental health. “That’s my heart” says Jan “picking up on people who have been dropped.” The need to have somewhere warm to go might be less critical at this time of year, but the call for a listening ear, practical support, connection to other organisations continues. Prayer is also offered and taken up by some, but Rita and Jan explain that “we pray with those who would like it but we are not pushy at all.” As a result they say they are “beginning to see huge differences in people’s lives” This ranges from people finding a place to live, to others wanting to explore faith further.

Although Jan and Rita attend Bradwell Elim Pentecostal Church, they delight in the fact that their team of volunteers come from several churches in the area. And whilst several of the warm space attendees now go each week to the Bradwell church, others have started to attend other local churches, where Jan says they will find “the same Jesus.”

Although the Saturday Warm Space has only been going a few months, Jan and Rita can now look back and see its roots stretching way back. Both were previously involved in leading “Open Church” which was a ministry run by St Andrew’s church in Gorleston offering care and hospitality. “Seven years Open Church with whoever came through the doors…that was our training ground” they tell me.

The Saturday Warm Space is currently going strong, and Rita and Jan are feeling positive about it’s future. They were recently sent another grant out of the blue which will keep them to keep going for the immediate future. They can also see the potential in those attending the warm space which they want to develop: “there’s more in them than they realise; there’s a lot of hidden giftings and talents that are beginning to come out.” They have already begun to encourage the attendees to take ownership of the group and its running.

Jan and Rita ask for your prayers for finances and “ongoing godly wisdom” as they continue their work. They are encouraged by what they have already seen but not complacent: “Something is opening up here in Great Yarmouth…there’s more yet, a lot more.”

Written by Anna Heydon


Email Jan and Rita about the Saturday warm space: infobradwellelim@gmail.com