Places of Welcome: Stan Ball Centre

Our new Place of Welcome Buddy, Jean, visited the Stan Ball Centre in Bloxwich recently and had a trip down TV programme Memory Lane along with her cuppa!

Stan Ball Centre Jean
Places of Welcome Buddy, Jean, outside the Stan Ball Centre, Bloxwich

Last week I visited Stan Ball Centre in Bloxwich, along with Jean a new Place of Welcome Buddy, to see the great way that staff engage and build community.

We booked a ‘drop-in’ session by telephoning the centre. When we arrived we found a sign to tell us where we had to go. We followed the one way system to a room in the centre, that was set up with six chairs and tables and hosted by the lovely Ann. Karen the Project Officer was also on hand to chat and make a cup of tea or coffee, and of course, we were quickly introduced to the other people there to have an hour long chat with!

Before Covid-19 there would have been the opportunity to visit the Place of Welcome in the Bistro, with a greater number of people being admitted, but although this is not currently possible, Ann and Karen have noticed that these smaller groups have helped some of their community to join in more easily, as they don’t feel overwhelmed with too many people, and friendships have grown deeper as a result. One group that meet have become firm friends outside of the ‘coffee hour’ and have started a WhatsApp group to keep in touch.

It was really evident from the conversations that we had with Karen and Anne, that they care deeply for the people that come to the centre and were thoughtful in checking up on people if they did not turn up and making sure that transport had been arranged.

In the group we attended, a lady who had never been to Stan Ball Centre before the Covid-19 pandemic, but had been having befriending phone calls from Karen and the team over the lockdown period, decided to pluck up the courage to join a face-to-face session. Within a couple of sessions she had made friends and another member of the group discovered that she liked murder mystery books and let her borrow one of his. This started a whole conversation about Murder Mystery television programmes and we all had fun remembering the shows that we enjoyed when we younger, such as Hart to Hart, Murder She Wrote, Knight Rider and Magnum PI– and having more fun trying to remember the characters names and the actors who played them! One gentleman even remembered the dog’s name in Hart to Hart – Freeway!

So if you would be interested making new friends, in a small group – Stan Ball Centre, Abbotts Street, Bloxwich, Walsall, WS3 3AZ - is a great place to do this. Phone and book a session on 01922 403351.