Providing warm spaces

08 October 2023

In response to the fuel crisis, many churches from all faiths are opening their buildings to provide a warm space to people experiencing fuel poverty.

Vector image of red mug containing a steaming hot drink

The Warm Welcome campaign was developed by ChurchWorks Commission – which brings together senior leaders from various denominations in the UK to explore the Church’s role in national Covid recovery. They have asked churches and other community and business spaces to offer a warm and welcoming space. With over 7,000 Warm Welcome Spaces now registered across the UK, many of you will be taking part.

Your church may be providing a Warm Welcome merely by advertising your existing church services as a warm space or extending your service to leave the building open to visitors. Alternatively, you may be opening in the afternoons or evenings and providing:

  • office space including Wi-Fi
  • food and tea/coffee
  • activities for children
  • counselling/signposting services to manage finances/heating bills
  • cooking courses.

Whatever you have decided to do, here's some simple guidance to keep everyone warm and safe this winter.

Make sure your property is protected

Whilst a warm space is operating there is an increased risk of damage to the property, these can be from:

  • increased use of cooking facilities at the premises
  • increased use of heating appliances
  • increased use of electrical equipment.

We also suggest you review which areas of the property can be accessed by your guests and assess the security protections for any valuables.

Therefore, your church should assess these new risks associated with providing warm space, to ensure you have adequate protections in place.

See further information and access our Health & Safety and risk assessment templates.

Offering food as part of your Warm Welcome

If you are providing food, over and above basic tea and coffee, for five or more days in any five consecutive weeks, then the Food Premises (Registration) Regulations 1991 could be invoked. This means:

  • The local authority must be advised about any premises being used for storing, selling, distributing or preparing food.

Registration requirements are complex. Whilst the majority of premises must have a registration, certain exemptions apply. One such exemption could be church hall premises. Enquirers should be directed to their Local Authority Environmental Health Officer.

Additionally, the Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) Regulations 1995 cover the basic requirements of:

  • food preparation
  • general food hygiene
  • personal hygiene and training of food handlers (everyone involved with food handling must receive training in basic food hygiene)
  • safe premises (including their design)
  • cleaning and disinfection
  • temperature control and washing facilities.

See further information and access our guide on food safety.

Protecting your volunteers

Warm spaces may need to be supervised at all times and this will most likely be done by volunteers. There is cover for volunteers within your church insurance policy, but you should take sensible precautions to ensure that they remain safe.

It is essential that appropriate training is in place, depending on the individuals’ contact with the guests. The guests could be considered vulnerable, so procedures need to be in place to protect them and the volunteers.

See further information and access our guide on volunteers.

Will your warm space activities change your insurance?

We generally expect these activities to be run and managed by your church and as such form part of normal church outreach. And unless there are any unusual activities or involve significant alterations to premises, we can cover these as standard at no additional cost.

We do, however, encourage you to get in touch with us and we will be happy to help if you are unsure or have any questions.

Policy cover queries

For queries about your policy cover, call our team on 0345 070 2223 (Monday to Friday 8am – 6pm, excluding bank holidays) or email

This guidance is provided for information purposes and is general and educational in nature. It should not be used as a substitute for taking professional advice on specific issues and should not be taken as providing legal advice on any of the topics addressed.