Warm Coats and Warmed Hearts

20 November 2023

As the chill of winter sets in, New Road Methodist Church, Sandwell, in the Black Country Methodist Circuit, held its first Warm Coats event on Thursday 9 November.

 The Warm Coats event was a great success. In addition to the usual coffee afternoon, the church's team welcomed dozens of people of all ages and backgrounds who came to get winter coats. “We told them to come and get what they needed for family members, friends and neighbours,” starts Revd Denise Williams, New Road minister.

 The event generated a lot of interest, with many people donating coats and inquiring about sizes available. The attendees not only received warm coats for the winter but children were also treated to delicious chocolates while adults enjoyed free tea and coffee.

 Sandwell and the Black Country have a long and rich history, being at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution. Today many of the people in the area with jobs can struggle to make ends meet. “It doesn't have the worst problems, but it is certainly an economically challenged area,” adds Denise.

 New Road Methodist Church’s team thought long and hard about what their community needed and how they could help people. Out of their brainstorming session, they started a coffee afternoon and decided to ask the families of the children attending a local school what they needed.

 They also met with the Tipton Neighbourhood Partnership team from Sandwell Council, and with Irandeep Mann, the Public Health Development Officer. “Irandeep mentioned that coats had been given away in the past. We liked the idea and decided to do it again,” explains Shirley Shelton, one of the event’s organisers.

 The response in the community was amazing. As soon as people heard about the initiative, coats started to arrive at the church. The team collected more than 200 warm coats for children and adults, along with hats, scarves and gloves.

As well as helping the local community, the Warm Coats event was an expression of their commitment to Action for Hope and becoming net zero for carbon emissions by 2030. The church recently received their Bronze eco church award from A Rocha. Warm Coats is an excellent initiative to help the community and the environment by repurposing unused clothes. The event was promoted on local radio and on the television on BBC Midlands Today. 

“Asking what the community wanted and organising this event was a blessing for the people we helped, but also for us, as it made us more visible in the community and encouraged us to carry on. We want to offer complementary initiatives to what is already available in the area,” adds Shirley. 

They have already registered to become a Place of Welcome and are hoping to become a Warm Space this winter to offer help and support to everyone who needs it.