Warm Spaces 22/23 wins Community Project of the Year at Leeds Compassionate City Awards.

The Leeds Compassionate City Awards recognise the outstanding individuals, groups and organisations who make a difference to their communities.

This year’s award ceremony was held on Thursday 7 December, with nine categories celebrating amazing work and contributions across the city.

Read more about the Leeds Compassionate City Awards

The Warm Spaces 2022/23 scheme in Leeds, now called Welcome Spaces for winter 2023/24, was awarded Community Project of the Year, recognising the positive difference this has made to the city and its communities.

The Community Project of the Year award for Leeds Warm Spaces recognises its impact on the lives of the people of Leeds, supporting the city during the cost of living crisis, and the commitment to continuing to support people during difficult times.

Over 200 organisations stepped forward to become part of the Warm Space Project in Leeds in 2022/23, including all Leeds City Council Community Hubs and Libraries, faith-based, private and third sector. Third Sector and faith-based organisations were funded by The West Yorkshire Mayor’s Cost Of Living Emergency Fund and all locations offered opportunities for people to gather for free in a warm, safe, and welcoming space.

Voluntary Action Leeds accepted the award for Warm Spaces 22/23 on behalf of the hundreds of third sector and faith organisations that took part in the Warm Spaces programme (alongside Leeds City Council’s Community Hubs, Libraries and other organisations) and many of the organisations took to the stage to gain deserved recognition for their important role.

Hannah Bailey, Chief Officer at Voluntary Action Leeds, commented: “Warm Spaces, and now Welcome Spaces, represent a true citywide response – one that that highlights the resilience and responsiveness of communities. Voluntary Action Leeds was proud to accept the award on behalf of the third sector and faith organisations that worked so hard to deliver and to give the recognition for this collective, and much-needed, response. We were delighted many of the groups were at the awards and were able to join us onstage to mark this special moment.”

VAL trustee, and former Chair, Chris Hollins, was also recognised with a ‘Highly Commended’ in the ‘Unsung Hero of the Year’ category at the awards ceremony for his commitment to the third sector in Leeds and West Yorkshire over the past 12 years.

The Warm Spaces project, now named Welcome Spaces, continues in 2023/24, supported by a partnership between Leeds City Council and Voluntary Action Leeds, with support from Wellsprings Together and Forum Central. Third Sector and faith-based organisations have received funding from the West Yorkshire Mayor’s cost of living emergency fund and the Leeds City Council Household Support Fund. For this winter, the Leeds Community Anchor Network have played a key role in coordinating local provision and distributing funding.

Pip Goff, Director of Volition, Forum Central, highlights the programme’s positive impact on people’s health and wellbeing:

“Warm, and now Welcome Spaces has been a fantastic collective effort which Forum Central is proud to have supported LCC and VAL in delivering. The recognition that the health and wellbeing of people starts at home and in communities with locally trusted places and people, is what makes this programme special. It places communities first and has enabled people to look after one another, reduce isolation and give much needed practical help in the form of food, shelter and heat which sadly an increasing number of people cannot afford due to the ongoing cost of living crisis. Working together on initiatives like this gives us hope that people who are in the most need will continue to be supported.”

Councillor Mary Harland, Leeds City Council’s executive member for communities, said: “We love presenting the Compassionate City Awards every year to celebrate the outstanding work people around our city are doing every day in their communities or for the wider city.

“The Warm Spaces 22/23 really highlight how Leeds has come together during the cost of living crisis, providing warmth, support and community to those that need it. All the organisations and people involved have done a fantastic job”.

Find out more about Welcome Spaces 23/24 and how to register to become a Welcome Space.