Horsham funeral director, Freeman Brothers, has served the local community since 1855. The company remains independent and family-run, now with a further three offices across West Sussex – in Billingshurst, Crawley and Hurstpierpoint – and a dedicated team of experienced staff. The organisation aims to support the local area in a variety of ways, working beyond the scope of funeral directing, and does so by offering help to community groups, charities, and other local projects. With more people than ever before in need of a helping hand, Community Co-Ordinator, Becky, shares details of a charity which Freeman Brothers will be working with this year.
As I write this, at the end of October, one of our most frequently used phrases seems to be ‘unseasonably warm’. For some of us, this is cause for conversation and debate, a kind of classic British chat but with contemporary focus on the environment. And for many, this will be something of a relief, whilst also continuing to cause intense anxiety – winter will, of course, come, and this spell of weather which is warmer than we’re used to in autumn can only last so long.
Thanks to a combination of political, social and economic factors, late 2022 and early 2023 are set to be a tough time for far too many people. Charities are also struggling more than ever, hit by the dual issue of a funding crisis, plus rising demand on services. With this in mind, and our continued focus on community support, my colleagues expressed a clear desire that we seek a way to help others during the winter.
Having worked with local charity Horsham Matters previously, it seemed likely to me that they would be aiming to make provision for those struggling locally. Paula Daly from the charity was quickly able to share details with me, letting us know that Horsham Matters was indeed launching a ‘Warm Spaces’ project.
When we first discussed the idea back in August, Paula informed me that requests for help from the charity had increased dramatically: in April, the foodbank helped 363 people, and by August the figure was approximately 900 people. Back in the Spring, Horsham Matters had successfully launched a ‘Connecting Café’ scheme, which provided a community group, plus a hot meal and cake for everyone who attended at a subsidised rate. Due to the popularity and success of this, the idea of the Winter ‘Warm Spaces’ was born.
Attendees at the Warm Spaces will be provided with soup, a bread roll and hot drinks free of charge, plus books and board games to offer activities whilst they make the most of the available space. This was exactly the kind of initiative we had been hoping to support, and are delighted to be helping by making a donation towards the costs of running the project.
The Warm Spaces launched last week and will run throughout the winter months. As I mentioned earlier, it was anticipated that the weather would be worse than it currently is, so the scheme may have a quieter start than anticipated, however we are aware that unfortunately, many people are already struggling.
Something that was additionally appealing in terms of supporting this initiative was that, by association, it also targets another key problem within our community, which is loneliness. Even prior to the onset of COVID-19, many older people in particular were struggling with the issue of social isolation, particularly during winter. The pandemic exacerbated this, due to the necessity of lockdowns. Many people have already endured two winters which involved increased time spent at home by themselves, and may have lost links with friends and family members, as well as suffering bereavements during this time.
Having a space that they can attend in the local community, which will be safe and warm, and will provide hot food and drinks as well as other people to socialise with, will be a lifeline for many people.
You can learn more about the Horsham Matters Warm Spaces here