A WARM space in Bradford expects to help "record numbers" of people as the weather gets colder. 

The need has been described as "massive" - but help is at hand for those in need of somewhere warm to go to.

So-called 'warm spaces' are places where people can gather completely free of charge in a cosy, safe, friendly environment.

Open to anyone, warm spaces include certain church halls, community centres libraries and other venues.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The warm space works tirelessly to help peopleThe warm space works tirelessly to help people (Image: Mike Simmonds/Newsquest)

Some of them offer food, hot drinks, activities and other services such as free Wi-Fi.

There are hundreds of warm spaces across Bradford district and surrounding areas opening their doors this autumn and winter, just as they did 12 months ago.

One of them is located at St Stephen's Church in the West Bowling area, run by the charity Shine.

Lou Mann, operations manager with Shine, said she expects to see a lot more people coming through the doors as 2023 draws to a close and 2024 begins.

She told the Telegraph & Argus: "We've been working as a charity here for 10 years now and we help hundreds of people every week in various different sessions.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Welcome to the warm spaceWelcome to the warm space (Image: Mike Simmonds/Newsquest)

"Our warm space is very popular and we're expecting numbers to increase as we head into the winter.

"The need is massive and I'm sure we'll see record numbers - times continue to be very difficult for many people.

"We don't just offer a warm space, we provide food, refreshments such as tea, and advice on matters like housing, benefits, and jobs.

"We get a lot of positive feedback and we see people growing in confidence, which is wonderful."

When the Telegraph & Argus visited the warm space earlier this week, many people spoke highly of it - and there were plenty of smiles as residents received support.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Mo FazalMo Fazal (Image: Mike Simmonds/Newsquest)

Mo Fazal, 64, who said he was made redundant in 2020, told the T&A: "I come here nearly every day - I feel at home here.

"You feel warm, you can get food and a drink, you have company.

"I leave feeling happy - I don't want to leave it.

"It's amazing and everyone behind it is fantastic."

Neil Hargreaves, 56, added: "They're absolutely lovely people here - they're lifesavers.

"I've got good friends here - they've helped me with a lot of things.

"I recently lost my wife and my mental health suffered as a result of this, but they've offered me a lot of moral support here and I can't thank them enough.

"If other people are considering coming here but might think there's a stigma attached, I'd say don't be embarrassed at all.

"These warm spaces, these wonderful people are here to help.

"A lot of folk are struggling these days - and there's nothing wrong in seeking support."

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Toni and Sonya BriggsToni and Sonya Briggs (Image: Mike Simmonds/Newsquest)

Sonya Briggs, 43, said: "This place is a huge lifeline for so many."

Thirty-four-year-old Toni, who did not want to give her surname, added: "Like millions of people, I'm struggling with the cost of living crisis.

"It's so expensive to heat your home and buy food these days - it's ridiculous and things don't seem to be getting better.

"Here, you can feel warm and safe and get some food.

"This is my first time here and I'm really impressed with it.

"It's good for the mind and helps to make you feel better."

In 2022, around 7,000 warm spaces were registered across the UK - with nearly 2.5 million visits during the cold months.

Bradford Council works alongside voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations to provide warm spaces throughout the district.

A spokesperson for the authority said: "Warm spaces are safe, friendly, neutral places where you can comfortably spend time reading, studying or chatting with others.

"Warm spaces were launched in December 2022 to help people who were struggling with the cost of heating their home through winter.

"Due to their popularity, the spaces continued through summer under the name of 'welcoming spaces'.

"Warm spaces are back for winter 2023, funded by money from the Department for Work and Pension’s Household Support Fund."

For more information about warm spaces and to learn where to find them in the Bradford area, visit www.bradford.gov.uk/health/health-advice-and-support/warm-spaces

Find out more about Shine at www.shinewestbowling.org.uk