Orpington's heart warming community centre The Hub is now serving more than just goodwill – it's offering free refreshments and friendly chats to all who enter.

Nestled in the heart of the town, the centre’s initiative aims to build relationships and offers a free, warm space to all that need it.

Residents of Orpington are invited to savour complimentary refreshments while engaging in uplifting conversations, at the Orpington Methodist Church, every Tuesday from 9.30am until midday (except the third week of each month).

Joanne Gregory, president of the Rotary Group which runs The Hub, says that the location in Orpington is completely “community based” and is welcoming in visitors with open arms.

News Shopper: The Hub in OrpingtonThe Hub in Orpington (Image: The Hub in Orpington)

Joanne told the News Shopper: “We’re just people that want to get out there and volunteer and actually make a difference in the community.

“Last year, a couple of our members were very concerned about the cost of living and the fuel crisis.

“One of our members belongs to the church, and they offered us to use space in the church where we could invite people in and out of the cold – a time to turn their heating off and keep warm.”

The Hub fund’s the refreshments – teas, coffees, cakes, and what Joanne found was that the majority of people coming in were vulnerable, particularly the elderly and those who are “quite lonely”.

Joanne explained: “I think going into a coffee shop on your own can be a little daunting, but here, they can come in and get a warm welcome.

News Shopper:

“People who visit The Hub have the opportunity to sit with a volunteer, introduce themselves to other members or just pop in for food.

“So, we've got lots of different things going on there as well as, like offering people freebies that they may not normally have access to or can't afford.

“I think our project just tries to offer something a little bit different for people to come back every week.”

The Hub is open to people of all ages, has previously been used as a collection point for other charities, and even has a children’s play area.

The space can take around 50 people, according to Joanne, yet it’s “warm and cosy” for people to sit around and build relationships.

Joanne added: “Some of the people just warm your heart because they just want to talk and it's wonderful.

“Most of the time you just sit there and listen.

News Shopper:

“Sometimes you just feel like you want to shout from the rooftops, but there are places like ours for people to feel safe in”.

The Hub is scheduled to stay open all throughout winter and until April, if the centre keeps receiving support from volunteers and raises enough money.

“Even a 50p donation can help” Joanne explained, as this is what helps to keeps the centre running.

Joanne said: “There’s a donation pot there if people want to, but its subtly at the end of the counter.

“We tend to serve people when they come in, as we want people to come in, sit down and have a chat, just like you would do in your own home.

“As a new rotary group, we want to let people know what we’re doing in Orpington.”