Places of Welcome in Stoke on Trent & Staffordshire

Places of Welcome in Staffordshire – getting ready to reopen our doors, welcoming new and piloting Places of Welcome Plus Buddies

Word Cloud Places of Welcome Tea Cup

After what has been a long and hard year for us all, but especially for those whom we all support in our local communities, it is so exciting to be talking about reopening our Places of Welcome - and even welcoming new ones, too!

Places of Welcome locally are set up and supported by Transforming Communities Together, helping people and communities to thrive and flourish - www.tctogether.org.uk

There are over 70 Places of Welcome registered in Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire. At times of national lockdown, they have been closed, but under “the rule of 6” and at other points in our national and regional Covid-19 journey, many have found ways of still supporting their local communities and keeping in touch with group members.

An essential premise of Places of Welcome is that they are informal gatherings, offered on a “drop in”basis. They are welcoming to all, and provide companionship and a free cuppa and a biscuit (or, in some cases, something a little more substantial). Places of Welcome happen in the same place at the same time each week, which means that some people will become “regulars”, but others may only come along once, a few times or on the odd occasion. There is no registration process (other than the collecting of information for “track and trace”, when required under Covid-19 regulations).

Many of our Places of Welcome have made increased use of outdoor spaces during the pandemic. Some, like Muddy Boots in Burton Upon Trent (part of Broadway Social Enterprise) are based outdoors all year round and, on Monday, 10th May, we celebrated the opening of a new open-air Place at Beresford Community Garden, also in Burton Upon Trent, run by volunteers from Trent & Dove Housing. A week later, on Monday, 17th May, volunteers from Lichfield Cares Good Neighbours Scheme started their new Place of Welcome at Curborough Community Centre in North Lichfield. This group started by using the outdoor space at Curborough Community Centre, and will move on to offer indoor and outdoor seating options, as the Covid regulations allow.

Places of Welcome are eager to reopen as soon as possible, but ensuring that they are fully compliant with Covid-19 requirements and recommended best practice, to keep everyone safe. For some, such as libraries, the requirement for social distancing will make this impossible within the constraints of their premises and other functions or activities that have to take place there. Those that can consider making use of an outdoors space may be able to open sooner; St Anne’s Place of Welcome in Chasetown, near Lichfield has led the way in reopening its “Space of Welcome” from Thursday 15th April, meeting in the Burntwood Be A Friend Tent in the grounds of the church, as depicted here last year:

https://tctogether.org.uk/what...

There is no doubt that taking part in groups again will make some of our local community members feel very anxious, after months of being isolated in their homes. Transforming Communities Together, with funding from Lichfield District Council, is working with Support Staffordshire to offer a Buddying service, whereby such individuals can be supported to attend their local Place of Welcome. We hope that this scheme will not only help people today, but can provide the evidence to support future funding applications to offer this support elsewhere, too.

If you know someone from Lichfield District who would benefit, please contact Clare Jolly clare.jolly@supportstaffordshire.org.uk or Jess Ryan jessica.ryan@supportstaffordshire.org.uk

The Buddying project has been paused during the pandemic and is now funded to the end of August.

For more information about Places of Welcome in Staffordshire or Stoke On Trent, please contact Lesley Bovington, Places of Welcome Facilitator: lesley.bovington@tctogether.org.uk or 0770 4485 332.