As the country prepares for what is set to be a bleak winter struggling against the energy crisis, a church in Darlington has opened its doors to provide for those dealing with fuel poverty. 

King's Church, located on Prospect Place, off Whesshoe Road, has set up a warm comfortable area within its building where members of the community can access hot drinks, internet and phone charging facilities all free of charge. 

This comes as part of a nationwide response to ruinous energy prices, with warm banks being set up in community hubs up and down the country.

For some, being unable to heat their home can be a life or death matter with the National Energy Action charity attributing cold homes as the cause of 10,000 deaths a year.

Read more: 67,000 food parcels claimed by North East families in 2022 period

Tony and Joy Colthup, volunteers at the church, have organised the creation of the warm bank after hearing of the charity Warm Welcome, which facilitates the opening of safe, welcoming and heated locations for the public. 

They felt the need to open the space up to the public after seeing members of their community struggle against energy prices, leaving them unable to turn on the heating or even cook quick meals. 

The Northern Echo: The church runs a warm space, a furniture recycling scheme, a foodbank, a not-for-profit cafe, and more to help the Darlington community. The church runs a warm space, a furniture recycling scheme, a foodbank, a not-for-profit cafe, and more to help the Darlington community. (Image: Phoebe Abruzzese)

The church is not infallible, though, and is feeling the pinch of the energy crisis. Graham Kennedy, Elder and centre leader, explained that gas and electricity bills are "a huge cost and one of our main worries."

"As a church, we are always living on the edge financially, but if people have a need, we will try to meet it. We will continue to run our foodbank and warm space until we don't have the resources to keep the heating on ourselves."

Read more: Newcastle Building Society combats cost of living cold spell

The King's Centre received a predicted bill of £97,000 for the coming year, a huge jump from their normal energy cost of £18,000. Though they managed to find a lower tariff, they are still paying significantly above last year's rates. 

Despite this, the church is still determined to help its community as much as it can and has made its warm space available five days a week, between 9:30 am and 2:30 pm. 

Tony explained: "Nothing like this has ever been run previously, as there didn't seem to be the need. Because of this, we don't know what demand is going to be like, but we expect that more people will have to come here as it gets chilly."

Volunteers within the church are keen to see the government change their tactic of populus-wide relief when it comes to the current cost-of-living crisis. 

Graham said: "It runs the risk of worsening the gap between the rich and the poor. There are people who need this help, and people who don't - though there is no one type of person who comes to us. There are people who really can't take any kind of burden."

The church has had individuals donating their fuel allowance to help them run this scheme, an act which has been described as "incredibly heartening".

Read next:

If you want to read more great stories, why not subscribe to The Northern Echo for as little as £1.25 a week. Click here.