Domestic and Sexual Abuse happens in Harrogate – join in the conversation

This month, we’re starting a conversation about domestic abuse and relationship issues. February marks Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness week, beginning today and ending on the 11th February.

Domestic abuse and sexual abuse happens to people you may know or walk past everyday. It happens in Harrogate. It may have happened to you. It’s time to start talking about what is acceptable when it comes to relationships and sexual violence and how the Harrogate Hub can help.

Domestic violence is a type of abuse that can be physical, emotional, mental as well as sexual. Whilst many of us may be celebrating Valentine’s Day with our loved ones this month, there are others in our town whose relationships aren’t all what they seem to be on the outside.

In fact, it is estimated that 150-200 people per month seek support for domestic abuse in Harrogate.

This is where the awareness week comes in.

Single, or in a relationship; or like me, in a happy, loving and respectful relationship, it can be hard to believe that anyone could ever be abusive in a partnership.

Sometimes people might not know it themselves.

As I was scrolling through twitter last week, I saw these tweets from West Yorkshire police, which really got me thinking:

Domestic abuse isn’t always obvious.

It can often start with subtle actions from a partner like text messages or controlling behaviour.  Often those abused don’t notice the signs at first.

These subtle actions can escalate. In some cases, they can escalate so much that for some women there is no escape; 2 women in England and Wales die because of domestic abuse on average each week, according to Homicide Statistics.

It’s not just women who suffer but as seen in the tweet above, 1 in 6 men experience some form of abuse within a relationship.

It’s important to notice the signs. You may feel afraid of your partner or feel like they’re always criticising you. Perhaps you’re too embarrassed to mention these feelings to friends or family.

At the Hub we are here to help those who feel they’ve got nowhere to turn.

We help by listening and offering support, and we can signpost to IDAS, the Independent Domestic Abuse Services.

We can help you through the process of getting in touch with IDAS or other specialist services, and we will continue to offer our support – we won’t withdraw our help once we’ve signposted you. We’ll continue to walk alongside you on your journey for as long as you want.

Speaking about the new Domestic Abuse Awareness Campaign on North Yorkshire Police’s website, Sarah Hill, Director at IDAS said:

“IDAS are delighted to be able to launch a new awareness campaign with the support of the OPCC and NYP.  Over the next 6 months, the campaign will provide a range of information about domestic abuse and about the services available for victims of abuse.

For every person who reports or seeks help because of abuse, four more people do not report or access any support or help at all.  

This campaign will reach out to those people and help them access services and support when they need it.  This will increase reporting, reduce risk and help more people live a life that is free from harm and violence.”

If you or anyone you know in Harrogate show any signs of being a victim of domestic abuse, please get in touch with the Harrogate Hub or IDAS. Or if you are experiencing or have experienced sexual abuse, please don’t stay silent. You can call us during our open hours on 01423 369393  or drop in to our welcome centre on 39 Oxford Street, Mondays-Fridays, 10-12 noon, and Mondays-Thursdays, 2-4pm.

Abusive behaviour is not ok, but it’s definitely ok to talk about it.

Follow the hashtag #itsnotok to read other people’s stories.


Check out this site for more helpful guidance:



Written by Rachel Williams

Edited by Ella Green

Read more

It’s time to talk about loneliness – the modern health crisis

Loneliness is a deeply private affliction, but it’s also a modern public health crisis.


Kate Leaver

Following on from our blog post about loneliness at the end of last year, we thought we’d start the New Year with a conversation about loneliness in our town.

Whilst we’ve been thinking about this problem on a local scale, it’s been really encouraging to see that loneliness is now being raised as an issue that needs to be tackled nationwide. This month we saw the appointment of a minister for loneliness. This new development has sparked off a national conversation about the problem. An article in the Guardian, published earlier this week, by journalist Kate Leaver, helpfully discusses the stigma attached to loneliness and the ways in which we can overcome it:

“The very first thing is to identify it. Naming the feeling, saying the words “I’m lonely” out loud, and preferably in the presence of a trusted human being, strips that malevolent emotion of some of its power…Shame clings to loneliness like a pernicious little pilot fish, so it’s best to vanquish it as quickly as possible. It is not shameful to be lonely – it is human and it is natural and it is salvageable.”

This is why we’ve started our own conversation about loneliness in our town. We hope that by talking about this topic, we can help people to realise that they are not alone in their loneliness and empower them to seek support. We’ve been asking the people of Harrogate to tell us what they think causes loneliness. Here are some of the responses:

  • Busyness – we are all so ‘busy doing stuff’ that we often don’t notice those around us who might be feeling lonely.
  • Family breakups or disagreements. And some people don’t have family living nearby.
  • There’s an ageing population in Harrogate, and it can be difficult to engage with neighbours.
  • People don’t want to take time from their own schedules to see how others might be doing, particularly the elderly.
  • Social anxiety
  • Self- isolation due to mental health or other issues

How are we helping?

At the Hub, we have many visitors who come through our doors because they are feeling isolated and are looking for community. We provide a listening ear, friendship, and a safe space to share the challenges of life. We also help people get involved in the life of our community, whether that’s by signposting them to a relevant church or community group, or inviting them to join one of the Hub’s own social activities.

After the success of our Knitted Angels project last year, the Hub is restarting a Knit and Natter group on Monday afternoons to give people the opportunity to make new friends and talk things through with a cuppa and a ball of wool! Although non-knitters are also very much welcomed!

However, we’re aware that many people work during the daytime and will be unable to visit the Hub or other social groups. Harrogate blogger, Stuart, writes that “Loneliness is not just an issue facing the elderly – it crosses all age bands.”

For this reason, we will soon be opening in the evenings, and on the 16th February we’ll be hosting an exciting games night, a free event, particularly aimed at people in their 20s and 30s. Check out the Facebook event page here. There’s very little provided for this age group in Harrogate, so we hope to run events like this on a monthly basis to provide an opportunity for young people to have some fun and meet new friends. Each month, we’ll be inviting someone from our community to share their personal story at the event, whether it’s their experience of loneliness, or their experience of other related issues, such as mental illness, addiction, and loss.

If you’d like to share your story, please do get in touch. We’d love to hear from you and perhaps feature you in a future blog post or invite you to give a brief talk at one of our events. We all experience loneliness at some point in their lives and we want to help remove the stigma.


If you or someone you know is struggling with feelings of loneliness, why not pop into the Hub, give us a call, or come along to one of our events? We’ll help you find a sense of connectedness again – to yourself, to family, friends, neighbours, and your community.


Article links

Read more at:


Written by Ella Green

Read more

Christmas angels fly far and wide!

Our knitted angels have been causing a bit of a stir in Harrogate!

If you haven’t already seen or heard about our knitted angels, then do drop by and have a look at our beautiful window display. You can also take an angel home with you, or you could give one to someone as a present this Christmas.

Our Knit and Natter group, along with other knitters around Harrogate (and beyond!) have knitted 100s of these angels, each with a little message from the Hub, to spread hope and love this Christmas. You can read more about the project here.

Lots of passers-by have been standing and staring at the Hub window! And since we’ve started giving out the angels, we’ve heard all sorts of stories, and met people from all over the place.

We’ve had visitors from:

  • the local area – Harrogate, Knaresborough, Ripon, Spofforth, Bradford and Leeds
  • Newcastle, Northumberland, Cambridge, Durham, Manchester.
  • Scotland and Wales
  • Germany, Spain, the Netherlands
  • And even New Zealand!!!
People have been taking angels for all sorts of reasons this Christmas.

We’ve heard stories of joy and sadness. One visitor told us they’d lost an angel from their Church knitted nativity scene, and so we provided them with a new one! Another person came in to collect an angel for a relative, who’d recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness. They wanted to give them a message of hope and love.

Another visitor wanted to take an angel so they could start a project at their church. And others have come in to take away angels as gifts for their children.

It’s also been wonderful to see people’s generosity. Many visitors have been giving us donations for their angels, which is helping us raise money for our work.

You can watch a video and read an article about our angels project over at the Harrogate Advertiser website. They came to visit us when we first completed our window and have helped us raise awareness of our work.

If you know someone who might be feeling lonely or sad, or struggling in some way this Christmas, why not drop into the Hub and pick up an angel for them? We want everyone in Harrogate to know they are loved and not alone; to know there is somewhere to turn when life becomes a struggle. 

Sending you all Christmas greetings from the Harrogate Hub!


Written by Ella Green

Read more

Loneliness: the big health risk and unspoken issue in Harrogate

It’s hard to believe that people could ever feel lonely in England’s ex-happiest place to live.

Unfortunately, it’s a sad truth that often gets forgotten about in Harrogate’s daily hustle-bustle, thriving businesses and stream of tearooms and bars. Our busy social scene can masquerade the worrying reality that there are lots of lonely people in our town.

In fact, three quarters of people in Yorkshire and the Humber say that they have suffered with loneliness, according to recent research by the Yorkshire Post in partnership with the Campaign to End Loneliness.

Here at Harrogate Hub, we aim to combat these issues by reaching out to our community, because no-one in our town should be lonely, isolated or unsupported.

We have people coming through our doors with a whole variety of issues, from people needing help filling in forms to people who are suffering abuse, but by far the biggest need we see is loneliness.

Our friends over at Supporting Older People, based at East Parade’s Community House, share our passion for helping those in need.

Julia Lightfoot, who is Home Visiting and Activities Manger at the 30-year-old charity, said: “There’s a massive loneliness issue in Harrogate because it’s an aging town; a lot of people’s friends and family members have died.

“When people are a unit, like a husband and wife, it’s great… but when one of them passes away, the other is left thinking ‘what do I do now’?

The ‘what do I do now?’ moment is something that almost everybody will go through and will inevitably start to feel lonely.

Julia said that taking the initial step is often the hardest step for people, especially men, who often bottle up how they’re feeling.

At the Harrogate Hub, we’re also seeing younger people suffering from loneliness too.

Since, we opened in January, we’ve had people of all ages, from 18 to 90, coming through our doors.

Caroline Hurren, who is a pastoral carer at the Harrogate Hub, said: “Some people walk in before we’re even officially open and then they stay for the entire time. You wonder how long they’d stay if we didn’t have to close.

Several regulars have said it’s an absolute luxury to have a conversation, not just to be listened to, but to have a laugh as well. We’re not just meeting needs, we’re offering friendship.”

Not only is loneliness an often-overlooked issue, it is classified as a serious health issue.

“Chronic loneliness is cutting lives short, and the problem is growing”, said RCGP chair Professor Stokes- Lampard in her opening speech at the college’s annual conference.

Being lonely is worse for you than obesity and is as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

In the speech she gave in Liverpool at the beginning of last month, she called on the four governments of the UK to increase funding for general practice in order to give GPs ‘time to care’.

Health-care professionals are starting to signpost people to the Hub, because we are not time limited. We can provide long-term support, walking alongside people for as long as they need it and welcoming them into community.

Laura Alcock-Ferguson, Executive Director of the Campaign to End Loneliness, fully supports the call for GPs needing time to care. She said: “Our recent research with the LSE found that for every £1 spent on tackling loneliness, up to £3 can be saved in health costs – and GPs can play a huge part in identifying the older people who need help. We want all GPs to be able to spot the signs of loneliness, and would encourage GP surgeries – where possible – to link up with local services that tackle loneliness.

“We also need commissioners to fund the early interventions and services that will stop lonely people needing to go see their GPs in the first place. The health and economic benefits for tackling loneliness in older people are clear. Now, we need action.”

One way to help prevent this, according to Supporting Older People, is simple human contact.

Julia said: “It’s having that human voice to break up the monotony of the day. I have people who say all they do is stare at the same four walls every day. Having someone there breaks up their day, gives them a new face and a new aspect.”

The charity has around 70 volunteers. Many of them are matched as home-visitors to go to people’s homes and have a chat with them once a week.

They also host a range of activities from ‘tea and talk’, ‘singing group’ to frequent outings.

Young or old, anyone can feel lonely or isolated and it’s not a nice feeling at all. It can often engulf your life without even realising it; not to mention the impact it has on your health.

If you’re feeling lonely, why not pop in and see us at Harrogate Hub. Likewise, you can contact Supporting Older People.

Both charities are also looking for more volunteers. With the end of the year approaching, maybe you could make it your new year’s resolution to help combat loneliness in our town.

Article links:

Read more at:

Written by Rachel Williams
Edited by Ella Green

Read more

Meet Ella

Meet Ella, our new charity officer

Hello Ella! Tell us a bit about yourself                                                                                                                                                          I’m a Bristolian enjoying life in the North. I studied English Literature at uni and love living so close to Brontë country. I’m also a big hot chocolate drinker!

What does Charity Officer mean exactly?

I work alongside the Hub team, focusing on the marketing and fundraising side of things. I have the exciting task of spreading the word about the Hub on social media, our website, and in other ways too. At the moment I’m raising awareness about our new 20:20 campaign. You can find out more here!

How would you describe the Hub in three words?

Loving, welcoming, colourful.

What is your hope for the future of Harrogate?                                                                                                                                       I would love to see a more outward-looking, more loving, more accepting Harrogate, where people don’t have to put on a façade, or pretend they’re ok; where everybody knows they have somewhere to turn and experiences the amazing love of God. I’m really excited to be part of the Hub journey and to see this hope become more of a reality every day.


Jo-Ann Hughes
Executive Director
Harrogate Hub

Please get in touch call 01423 369393 or email me:

Read more

May 2016

When I needed a neighbour, were you there?

We are now in a very exciting stage of development. We are beginning to see the opening of the Harrogate Hub!

However, we will only get there with considerable support from being one church in Harrogate, working together.

Work is progressing well with new internal plastered walls, electrics and heating. All the debris from the site has been removed and the contractors are ready to second fix – this is a technical term for putting in the kitchenette, disabled toilet, worktops, new lighting, doors etc … There is still loads to do!

So… Volunteer decorators, cleaners, tea and cake makers are needed for the week beginning Tuesday 7th June when painting the walls begins. I wonder if Nehemiah had this issue?

There are three floors in the building to be decorated. Not forgetting a stairwell!

We can make a start decorating the top and middle floors ready for the training of the Pastoral Care Volunteers to commence at the end of June.

From Tuesday 7th June through to Saturday 11 June – we are open for volunteer decorators and cleaners.

Please get in touch. The church decorating together will progress the Kingdom of God. Really!
Let us know the day and time you are able to come – it will be organised. Promise!

Email us now –

Don’t forget your rollers, brushes and trays. It will be fun! And you will be greatly blessed!

A message from our Interior Designer:

I am hoping to get a modular sofa for the ground floor space!  Please let me know if anybody has any contacts with office supply companies for this.

We are fortunate to have furniture for the middle floor and the office on the top floor.

I am always happy to hear of any input or contacts people may have.

Elaine Rogers

Pastoral Carers

We are looking for at least one Pastoral Carer from each church of the 27 Churches Together in Harrogate. I am told there are 36 churches altogether; at least one from each of the 36 would be fabulous! Unity will be shared as we pool our pastoral resources to reach people with unmet need in our town. ‘Thy Kingdom come…’

Faithful Christian men and women with the gifts of caring for your neighbour, come and join our network of pastoral carers to befriend and signpost people suffering from isolation, loneliness, injustice, oppression, brokenness…

‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few …’

For more details and an information Pastoral Care Pack please contact me:

When I needed a neighbour, were you there?

Volunteer Receptionists also wanted!

You are front of house, welcoming, with an engaging and friendly smile!
Please get in touch!

Please forward this newsletter to your network of family and friends. Thank you.

Grace, love and peace to you all.
Jo-Ann Hughes

Harrogate Hub Co-ordinator

Read more

July 2016

Dear Friends and Family of The Harrogate Hub,

I am delighted to update you on the progress that the Harrogate Hub is making.

The Harrogate Hub Building – Giving Thanks!

As you are aware the building has three floors:

The top floor is for use by the Operations Team and needs finishing off and furnishing ready for occupation.

The middle floor is the Training Room and a place for strategic planning and church unity. It has a large conference table and is equipped with teaching resources. It will be a bookable space when we open – a place where we aim to bring in some revenue to help support the running costs of the building.

The ground floor is the Welcome Centre and continues to be a work in progress; the entrance has yet to be made accessible for all although we have been awarded a grant from AllChurches Trust to create access to the building for all abilities; the reception area is built; the decorating is to be completed. If you have a few hours to spare please come and give Phil Vaux a hand! Thank you Phil!

The Lift – A wonderful answer to prayer – the lift will be installed in September. Thank you Church House Trust for gifting the money. The Lift will connect the ground floor to the middle floor so that people of all abilities can access training and meetings.

The volunteer interior designer gets to dress the ground floor in August; Elaine has worked tirelessly seeking out quality furniture for great prices all within the colour theme of the Harrogate Hub. Thank you Elaine! Your gifts are a real blessing!

The decorating has been professionally done by volunteers coordinated by Phil Vaux from Presence church. Phil has a ministry blessing people trapped by poverty, with practical home and gardening help. People who are struggling financially receive an unconditional blessing in Jesus name! Thank you Phil. You are a blessing to the work of the Harrogate Hub! And thank you to those who have supported Phil in the decorating too! You are all a blessing!

Cleaning the plaster and dust has been one woman’s calling. Mary is a beautiful blessing, working tirelessly and joyfully! We can certainly see the impact she has made; the contrast is striking! Thank you Mary! And bless you!

The Harrogate Hub Volunteer Teams

There are many teams being developed!

  • The Operations Team consists of the Coordinator, Administrators, Business Consultants, HR Consultant, Media and Communications experts, IT database Administrators, Treasurer, Finance and Funding Team, Welcomers/Receptionists
  • The Intercessors Team – one hour of prayer takes place every Friday in the Harrogate Hub at noon. We pray for our town, the needs of our neighbours, church unity and the building of the Harrogate Hub
  • The Pastoral Care Team – there are currently 12 people on the training programme
  • The Building Team – decorators and a cleaner
  • If you would like to be part of one or more of these teams and have the skills and talents and time to progress the vision of the Harrogate Hub I would love hear from you. At the time of writing their are 31 people across ten churches in Harrogate who are generously providing their gifting in the development of the vision of the Harrogate Hub.‘Come and plug yourselves in’, says Guy D-C. ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few!’ says Jesus.

Young People Need a Champion and People with Mental Illness Need Love

  • We are seeking a team of Christian Pastoral Carers to specialise in young people’s work
  • We are seeking a team of Christian Pastoral Carers to specialise in mental ill-health issues

There will be training in the Autumn for each team. The call will be to open our doors at specific times of the week, inviting young people and people with mental ill-health to engage in pastoral support. We will be working with key partners who specialise in these areas.

If you feel God’s calling to these teams and want to know more please contact me.

A huge thank you to everyone already ‘plugged in’;  God’s blessing upon you!


The Harrogate Hub Pastoral Care

Training is underway with 12 gifted and talented people. It is a joy to spend Tuesday evenings reflecting on what is good pastoral care and what qualities are needed in a pastoral carer. Time is spent sharing and reflecting on good practice and learning from one another as well as from the materials gently facilitated by Carol, our tutor.

The team in the pictures are working together on listening skills!

Church Unity – A Movement of Mission

Pastors, Vicars and Leaders met recently at one of the two Harrogate Hub breakfasts. They were treated to fresh fruit, coffee and croissants whilst receiving a presentation of the vision of the Harrogate Hub from Rev’d Guy Donegan-Cross and a tour of the Harrogate Hub building.

The town pastors are coming together to discuss their relationship with the Harrogate Hub in this Movement of Mission.

The Church is seeking to strategically coordinate its resources in reaching out to people in our community with unmet needs; people living is isolation and loneliness, whose lives are perhaps torn apart by chaos and who are looking for a greater degree of hope and connectedness. Whilst celebrating the diversity of each church, this Movement of Mission is seizing the opportunity to be more effective in meeting the needs within our neighbourhood.

Please pray as these relationships seek to form a common purpose and work in unity, as one.


Don’t forget we are looking for people who would like to be involved in the Movement of Mission. It is a very exciting time to get connected so please contact me at  – 

Please pray as these relationships seek to form a common purpose and work in unity, as one.

Read more