Re-opening of St Andrew's Church Place of Welcome

Monday 25th May saw the reopening of the Place of Welcome at St Andrew’s Church in West Bromwich.

I was very excited to be able to go along, see the doors of St Andrew’s wide open and handover to Julie Powell the Outreach Worker a new Places of Welcome sign to be placed outside their door on a Monday morning between 10am and 12 noon, letting the local community in West Bromwich know that this vital place, where community members can connect, belong and participate is once more open!

St Andrews West Brom 1

I felt a warm welcome as soon as I entered the church. There was a smiling face and someone to tell me what to do. There was a desk where I could sanitise my hands and either use my NHS Covid App on my phone to check in, or leave some brief information by pen and paper. The tables and chairs were all set out in groups of six, with plenty of space between the tables and chairs, but still set close enough to have a good conversation and what great conversations we had! Our conversations ranged from talking about the Eurovision results and the best dramas on TV, sharing information of some of the wonderful craft and art activities that go on locally, to all of the things we had experienced over the time of the Covid-19 pandemic. We shared our first experiences of having to wear masks, our ways of coping with the virus, the funny stories that happened with our first attempts at online shopping, like one delivery arriving with just one piece of broccoli, one banana arriving instead of a bunch and 2kg of ginger arriving instead of two pieces! We did have a giggle about this. We also talked about how we had missed our relatives and missed the giving and receiving of hugs. Over a couple of cups of tea (you could choose between a disposable cup or a mug) and an individually wrapped snack (I chose a Wagon Wheel), I spent a lovely hour getting to make some new friends, sharing experiences, and finding out about the local area.

I encourage you to look out for your local Place of Welcome as it reopens, go along and experience the wonderful hospitality, make new friends and help support and encourage your community to rebuild after a tough 18 months. Details of Places of Welcome in your area can be found on www.placesofwelcome.org

Carrie Blount, Places of Welcome Facilitator, Black Country