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Seek warmth and support at the John Betjeman Centre this winter

With many people facing a difficult winter, it is reassuring to know that there are places in the community that are welcoming everyone in to keep warm, have some food or simply meet with others in a time of crisis.

Manager Emma Burt with a bowl of hot soup, available at the centre

The John Betjeman Centre in Wadebridge is doing just that this winter. This friendly, sociable community hub, which is home to Concern Wadebridge and lots of local groups and organisations, will be opening their doors to anyone and everyone between now and the end of March, when people are more likely to struggle with heating their homes. They have officially become a ‘Warm Space’, and will be open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm for anybody to come in and use.

Concern Wadebridge manager Emma Burt told us more about the Warm Space initiative. “We will be open so anybody can come in here and keep warm. They don’t have to buy anything; they can simply come in and charge their phones, use our free WiFi and keep warm.”

Concern Wadebridge and the John Betjeman Centre is run by Emma and her team of volunteers and staff, who ‘make’ the centre what it is - friendly, community-focused and always offering a smile.

As part of their support this winter, they will be teaming up with Wadebridge Lions and Camel Community Supported Agriculture to offer their new ‘Winter Warmer Wednesdays’, where people can pay just £3 for soup and a roll, £5 for a main meal and £2.50 for a rice pudding. In addition to this, once a fortnight the centre will be visited by WREN (Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network) and Community Energy Plus, so that people can get free energy advice, and apply for grants if they need some support.

Volunteer Jill

All of these schemes will be running until the end of March, giving everyone in the community some much needed support and reassurance if they need it.

Talking about why they wanted to offer this service to the community, Emma said: “We’re a community hub and encourage people to feel safe. This is a safe, warm space that is open to everyone. It could be that someone has lost a partner and just needs someone to talk to, or can’t afford to put their heating on and really just needs to come and sit in the warm for an hour.”

The team works closely with Wadebridge Foodbank, the local GP surgeries and social subscriber to offer help to the community’s most vulnerable. If someone comes in and wants to talk to Emma or a member of the team, everything is kept confidential and they can even help make phone calls to services if needed.

Emma said: “Yes, the charity (Concern Wadebridge) is for the over 50’s, but the building is for everybody.

“If you’re struggling, come here and we’ll look after you. We know our regulars, but when someone new comes in we can carefully approach them for a friendly chat if that’s what they want.”

Mobility scooters are available to hire.

While Wadebridge Life was visiting, we experienced the embracing nature of the John Betjeman Centre and the wonderful people within its walls, from the group of regulars sipping on cups of tea and chattering away to one another, to the volunteers stopping for conversations, grabbing trays of teas and coffees or making the delicious lunches that are available there.

Volunteer Jill Chapman told us: “I love being in the cafe because it feels like being in your own front room!”

Aside from the winter support, the John Betjeman Centre will also be hosting a Christmas lunch for older members of the community who might need a warm meal, some socialisation and a bit of Christmas joy. This will take place from 10am-3pm on Friday 23rd December, where delicious hot jacket potatoes and mince pies will be served. Entertainment will be provided by The Shipwrecks, Wadebridge Male Voice Choir and the Golden Oldies, a singing group that meets at the centre. If you know of a neighbour, friend or relative who might be in need of a bit of Christmas spirit, call the centre on 01208 812392 and speak to Emma to arrange a space.

Emma added: “Thank you to my volunteers. They are the heartbeat of the centre.”

For more information about the John Betjeman Centre and Concern Wadebridge, go to


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