A church operating as a warm hub is helping nearly 70 people a week as families struggling during the cost-of-living crisis.
St Andrew’s Church, Livingston, West Lothian, is open every Wednesday and offers hot food, clothes, and food vouchers to people in need.
The church opened a café last April and was serving just 15 people a week – but now it sees between 60 and 70 with young families struggling to afford their bills and food.
Mum-of-two Kelly Yule, 45, has been using the warm hub for the past month and said it’s a great way to stay warm without worrying about putting her heating on at home.
Kelly, from Livingston, visits with her partner Mark Clelland, 44, and said the food vouchers have helped her feed her two sons.
She said: “I have been going every week for the last month, it’s fantastic and has helped so much.
“The food vouchers have helped me be able to afford my shopping and feed my children.
“I have been struggling a lot with my bills during the cost-of-living crisis, especially worrying about gas and electricity and how I can heat my home.
“You worry about putting the heating on because of the cost of the bills, so the church has been a great way to stay warm for a few hours.
“The shop is really cheap and hopefully we will be able to get some winter coats from there.”
Community development worker, Lesley Lawrie, 62, said the number of users has shot up during the cost-of-living crisis.
She said they have been offering humidifiers to people who have damp at home because they can’t afford to put the heating on.
Lesley said: “We started in April last year just running a café out of the church offering people something to eat.
“But as winter approached, we realised how many people were really struggling.
“This year when we saw other warm hubs popping up we thought it was a great opportunity to offer help to people.
“Last year we were seeing about 15 people but now we get between 60 and 70 people come through the door a week.
“The number of users has shot up with the cost-of-living crisis.
“We have a number of young families who are struggling to feed their children or heat their homes.
“We offer something to eat, soup, biscuits, rolls, and we also hand out food vouchers.
“There is a clothes shop too where the most expensive thing is five pound or people can get things for free depending on their circumstances.
“We have recently got some dehumidifiers for people who have got damp in their homes because they can’t afford to have their heating on.
“There is a good buzz about the place, it’s somewhere people can come to sit and chat and have something to eat.
“Friendships have been struck up, especially between young mums who are on their own.
“It’s fantastic to be able to help people who are really struggling even just a little bit.”
Minister of the church Nelu Balaj said it’s heartbreaking to see people struggling during the cost-of-living crisis but wants them to know help is available.
He said: “We help people from all over the community, elderly people who are lonely, couple and young families.
“It’s hard to see people struggle just now, especially because of the cost-of-living crisis.
“It’s really heartbreaking, but people have found support here in each other and someone to share their struggles with.
“It’s great to see everyone pull together to help in a time of need.
“We have children from two of the local schools come in to help us serve up the food each week and local business bring in donations.
“We have really see the number of people grow over the winter, especially in the past month.
“People need to know there is help and support available and we are here to offer that.”