Places of Welcome

Blog - Reopening our Places of Welcome network

An ongoing blog of our teams' travels to the wonderful network of Places of Welcome that are all around the Black Country, Staffordshire and northern Shropshire. Since the pandemic and the easing of restrictions, kettles have once again been boiling for cups of tea and doors opening for conversations and friendships to start. Read some of the amazing stories from members, volunteers adn co-ordinators below and be inspired to go along to a Place of Welcome near you!

Follow all the latest Places of Welcome news on this blog!

Published 8th June 2021, Updated 7th July 2022

Open Places of Welcome and TCT

Lea Road Community Church, Wolverhampton

Lea Road Community Church provides a Place of Welcome every Tuesday between, 16:15 and 18:30pm on Lea Road, Penn Fields, Wolverhampton, WV3 0LW.

They host a warm and welcoming space, set up in a café style, with lovely lighting and decorations which really give a relaxed atmosphere. They provide biscuits, crisps and toast and people can help themselves to drinks.

As this is a Family Drop-in, there is lots on offer for children too. They have access to the sports hall for sports based games and they have garden and carnival games in the courtyard, for all ages to engage with, such as giant snakes and ladders, Connect 4, knock-a-tin, Swingball, chalk play, a bubble machine and hop scotch.

This is a really inclusive place to drop in and spend some time, for anyone of any age – please do go along, make friends and have fun in your local community.

Lea Road Wolverhampton

St Francis of Assisi

St Francis of Assisi Church in Friar Park joined the Places of Welcome network last year and their Place of Welcome Coordinator Hazel Bloxham and her team of volunteers have really engaged with their community. They have invited local speakers to let their local residents know about events and support that is available to them. They have been entertained by local poet Brendan Hawthorne, taken part in craft activities and put through their paces with exercise sessions provided by West Bromwich Albion. I think it is amazing what Places of Welcome can become when they ask their community what they would like to do and engage with local community providers to bring this about. Well done to all those involved! Everyone is welcome at a Place of Welcome and you can find this one open every Thursday between 10:00 and 12:00 at Freeman Road, Friar Park, Wednesbury, WS10 0HJ – and I almost forget to mention the free refreshments and the delicious homemade cakes!

Photo captions:
West Bromwich Albion exercises, Results of flower arranging activity, Entertainment from local poet Brendan Hawthorne

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Dudley's Community Hub

It was great to pop into the Dudley’s Community Hub today and have a coffee and a chat at their Place of Welcome. This centre has so much more to offer than just a cuppa and a chat, they provide a whole range of services for people new to the Dudley area. Please do pop along on Tuesdays 10:30 – 12:30, 16A Stone Street, Dudley, DY1 INS, a short walk from the town centre to find out more!

Dudley Community Hub

St Paul's, Rugeley

Places of Welcome Facilitator, Lesley Bovington returned from her visit to St Paul’s Methodist/United Reformed Church, 53 Lichfield Street, Rugeley, Staffs, WS15 2EH Place of Welcome on Friday, 11th February with the unexpected and delightful gift of a posy of flowers, provided to all guests that day by the church flower arrangers, as you can see in this lovely photo/these lovely photos. The flowers were from the arrangements that were being replaced and we were all more than happy to re-use them in this way - and with Valentine's Day coming up soon, our little posies were gladly taken to help us all mark the day.
St Paul's Place of Welcome meets every Friday morning from 10.00am to 12 noon in a lovely, airy, sunny community room opposite the church, with adjoining kitchen and a carparking area just outside, so meeting up for a chat and a free cuppa couldn't be easier - and there were biscuits and cake on offer, too! People popped in and out during the morning and altogether there were 16 there on the day that Lesley visited, with room for more. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming, and the conversations flowed around the tables, with a lot of laughter, too.
Revd Jacob was a very welcome visitor towards the end of the morning. He was put to work immediately, to sort out a wonky curtain, much to the amusement of the Place of Welcome guests! Mission accomplished, the Reverend paused for a chat with Lesley and said how happy he was to see the group thriving and that he would love to see even more people coming along on Friday mornings.
Lesley says, "This was such a lovely, lively, relaxed Place of Welcome! I left there with a huge smile on my face. The morning simply flew by and I'm absolutely sure that anyone new coming along to this group would be made to feel very welcome and would have a wonderful time."

St Pauls Rugeley

Winshill Neighbourhood Resource Centre, Burton

Places of Welcome Facilitator, Lesley Bovington set out in the fog to visit Winshill Neighbourhood Resource Centre Place of Welcome - and by the time she arrived there, the sky was blue and the sun was shining! And there was a sunny mood inside the centre, too, to match the beautiful Spring weather outside. The conversation was lively, ranging from the local school dinners to favourite books to world events to dress-making for frocks for the Queen's Jubilee (authentic Butterick sewing patterns from the 50s spread out on the tables!). The centre hosts activities and provides community meals for all ages, and when Lesley visited there were toddlers and their mums there, as well as members of the older generations, with everyone happily chatting with everyone else. Members of the Trent & Dove Housing team also called by with a Food Share delivery from Aldi. The food was spread out on tables near the entrance to the centre and carrier bags provided, for everyone to take whatever they needed.
This Place of Welcome takes place every Friday morning from 9.00 to 11.00 am at Winshill Neighbourhood Resource Centre, Canterbury Road, Winshill, Burton Upon Trent DE15 0ER. Not only are you guaranteed a free cuppa and biscuit, but there's always toast and crumpets, too, toasted to order and customer preference - what a welcome!

WNRC

The Hive Hub, Willenhall

I visited the Place of Welcome at The Hive Hub in Willenhall, New Invention today and what a lot, this gem in the community, has to offer. On the site of a former library, The Hive Hub still offers a community library, but also a clothes bank too. They are open as a Place of Welcome every Monday morning between 10:00 and 12:00 and on Wednesdays between 13:00 and 15:00, offering free drinks and biscuits, and when I visited there was a birthday cake as it was someone’s birthday. The people there really made me feel welcome and included in the conversation around the table. At one end of the table a group of men were putting together a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle of a colourful scene full of birds, and one lady was knitting an ‘angel baby nest’ which she donates to a local hospital and the group have also knitted gloves, hats and scarves for people who are homeless. Tracey and Deb who host the Place of Welcome also have a lot of local knowledge to share too and a real warmth for their community.

Find this wonderful Place of Welcome at The Hive Hub (Frank F Harrison Community Association), 28 The Square, New Invention, Willenhall, WV12 5EA, Mondays 10:00 – 12:00 and Wednesdays 13:00 – 15:00. Go along, borrow a book, see if you can fit a piece in the jigsaw puzzle, or just have a chat and a cuppa!

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LifeSpring Church; at the heart of Chapel Ash

It’s great to announce that we now have ten Places of Welcome open in Wolverhampton – with LIfeSpring Church, situated in the heart of Chapel Ash, being our newest member of the Places of Welcome network.

LifeSpring Church hosts it’s Place of Welcome every Wednesday in a modern, cafe style setting. It is a well-attended community group, with a people from all walks of life and there is plenty of chat and good humour. It’s a great place to have a game of dominoes or just to sit, relax and make new friends.

LifeSpring Church has the words ‘Welcome Family’ painted on one of the walls and you are given such a warm welcome that you do feel at home straight away. Di, Len and the team, can’t wait to welcome everyone with free refreshments, biscuits and homemade cake. On my visit, I was served coffee by Lesley and Bernie and had the last slice of the Apricot Fruit Loaf made by Barbara which you can see on the photograph! It was delicious and proved very popular!

If you find yourself free on Wednesday mornings between 10:00 and 12:00, please do go along to LifeSpring Church, 34 Clifton Street, Wolverhampton, WV3 0QT – a safe place in the local community for people to connect, belong and contribute.

College Life Spring

Caldmore Community Garden has re-opened its Place of Welcome alongside it's Volunteer Day!

Fancy some time outdoors, working with nature and taking in some fresh air? Then why not go along to Caldmore Community Garden on Wednesdays to help out and enjoy good company with free refreshments. There’s lots to get stuck into, planting, weeding, pruning, landscaping, all while making new friends and having a cuppa and biscuit. Wednesday marked the relaunch of the Place of Welcome at Caldmore Community Garden where along with a free cuppa and a biscuit, you can enjoy their wonderful outdoor space, in the centre of this urban area of Walsall. You can even help out as a volunteer, this week Anna, along with some helpers, planted a raised bed of strawberries. If the weather is not kind, you can drink your cuppa inside their clean and bright café area. Fresh air, friendship and free refreshments can be found at Caldmore Community Garden every Wednesday between the times of 10:00 and 14:00, go along enjoy the beauty and peace of mind that nature brings.Caldmore Community Garden can be found on Carless Street, Walsall, WS1 3RH and really is a great place to spend a couple of hours, anyone can drop in anytime between 10:00 and 14:00 – every Wednesday from 2 February 2022.

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Caldmore Clooege update
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Stan Ball Centre - Blue Skies Signal Brighter Days Ahead

It was great to drop by one of our Walsall Places of Welcome today, Stan Ball Centre on Abbott’s Street in Bloxwich. They have recently relaxed their Covid-19 restrictions and moved their coffee morning back into their bright and welcoming bistro area, although they are kindly requesting that visitors continue to perform lateral flow tests on the morning of their visit.

I had not been into the bistro before so I was keen to stop by and catch up with some of their regular visitors and say hello to some new people who had come for the first time. Free refreshments were on offer as always, and there was a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

It was great to see the door wide open onto their patio, with a view of the canal under blue sky, definitely signalling brighter days ahead. Regular community member Linda told me that they often see ducks and swans outside and even a heron, and Ann who hosts the Place of Welcome said that in the summer the canal is covered with beautiful lily pads.

Karen, Project Officer for the centre, then came in to show me some of the knitted creations that had been made in support of Innocent’s Big Knit. They have knitted many bottle top bobble hats which will be sold on Innocent Smoothie drinks, with money from each sale going to support Age UK. Karen said that their community members were really enjoying knitting them – and there were some lovely ones, including a lion, rabbit and one with feather trim!

Stan Ball Centre, Abbotts Street, Bloxwich, Walsall, WS3 3AZ is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday between 10:30 and 12:30 – a great place to meet people and even take in a breath of fresh air canal side!

Stan Ball College

Hothouse Place of Welcome

Places of Welcome are open to anyone, but sometimes because of the venue or the facilities on offer they can take shape quite differently. When I visited the Place of Welcome at The Hothouse in Aldridge it was very clear that their family centred approach, meant that their group was attended by people with pre-schoolers. Amie, Ella (pictured) and Wendy gave me a very warm welcome – in fact I had a very cheerful ‘good morning’ from one of the children too - and a free cuppa and biscuit, but in addition there were lots of brightly coloured areas for toddlers to play and mats and stations for babies to play (and nap!) too. The session featured a snack time for the children and also story time and songs. If you are local to the Redhouse estate in Aldridge, it is a great place to meet up with other members of the local community, and the children enjoy themselves as well. The Hothouse Family Drop-in is free and runs every Thursday between 9:30 and 11:00 at 18 Myatt Avenue, Aldridge, WS9 0DR.

Hothouse College

Our Places of Welcome team have been working with Places of Welcome Coordinators across the Black Country, Staffordshire and northern Shropshire to create a tree for Lichfield Cathedral's Christmas Tree Festival!

Christmas Tree Decoration
Places of Welcome Christmas Tree decoration at Lichfield Cathedral

Cllr Richard Cox visits Handsacre Methodist Church Place of Welcome

Lesley Bovington, Places of Welcome Facilitator says, "We were delighted to welcome Lichfield District and Staffordshire County Cllr Richard Cox to visit Handsacre Methodist Church Place of Welcome, accompanied by Susan Bamford (Partnerships, Community Safety and Licensing Manager for Lichfield District Council). We were warmly greeted there by Ellyn and Beverly, pictured busily knitting and crocheting, as we all chatted away, sharing cuppas and good company. Transforming Communities Together is very grateful to Lichfield District Council for their funding and support for Places of Welcome."

Cllr Cox Place of Welcome Twitter
Cllr Richard Cox (L) and Ellyn and Beverly, Handsacre Methodist Church Place of Welcome
Holy Ascension Lower Farm Bloxwich

Holy Ascension Christmas Tree

Thanks to the Place of Welcome at Holy Ascension Church in Lower Farm, Bloxwich, for these lovely photographs. They used the Places of Welcome bauble template to colour and design decorations for their own tree! It looks fabulous – and was a bit of festive fun! Thanks for sharing and Merry Christmas all! You can join in the fun at Holy Ascension’s Wednesday Morning Club, 9 Sanstone Road, Lower Farm, Bloxwich, WS3 3SJ, every Wednesday between 9:30 and 12:00.

St Marys Catholic Church

St Mary's Catholic Church

I am always really happy to receive emails from Places of Welcome that include photographs of what their communities have been getting up to at their Place of Welcome.

St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Willenhall did just that – they emailed me with photos of members of their community planting pots to brighten up their outside space! Places of Welcome are safe spaces in the community where people can connect, belong and contribute and what a better way to feel connected than working together on a project like this. Not only have they brightened up their own day, but have brightened up the area they live in, so that the local community can enjoy the benefits of the flowers too, as they pass by.

If you would like to get to know people in your local area, have a free cup of tea, biscuit and some toast, and maybe even help with some planting, then head over to St Mary's Catholic Church, Leveson Street, Willenhall, WV13 1DA on Mondays between 10:30 - 11:30

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Birchills Agenda 21 small group with A frame outside written 2 111221

Birchills Agenda 21

Places of Welcome are safe places in the local community where people can connect, belong and contribute – yet each Place of Welcome has it’s own unique character and Birchills Agenda 21’s Place of Welcome at Sons of Rest on Reedswood Park, our latest member of the network, is full of character!

Open from 10am until 12 noon, its community members are reluctant to leave, as they find such a warm, welcoming atmosphere. It’s a family friendly, inclusive group who meet there with lots on offer to get involved with – you can loan bikes and ride around the park, don’t worry if you can’t ride a bike – there are people to help you learn to ride. Inside the building there are snooker tables, pool tables, table football, books and games – children were playing chess and others were colouring. As with every Place of Welcome there are free refreshments. On offer at this Place of Welcome is tea, coffee, squash, biscuits and toast. Above all, there a plenty of people to talk to from your local community!

Interested and want to meet up at the new Birchills Agenda 21 Place of Welcome in Walsall? Then you can find it at Sons of Rest, Talbot House, Bentley Lane, WS2 8SP, between 10:00 and 12:00. Everyone welcome!

Greif Awareness Week Blog Pics

National Grief Awareness Week Blog

Transforming Communities Together love partnering with organisations to help community members make the best out of life. Sadly, sometimes that means enabling people to work through tough times, such as a bereavement. We were really pleased to support Dudley Council’s Public Health and Wellbeing team with the work they are doing, recently promoting their Bereavement Kindness Toolkit in National Grief Awareness week, encouraging people to talk more about death and discuss how to support others at this difficult time.

Anne Horder a Public Health Nurse, part of the Public Health and Wellbeing Team at Dudley Council, along with Greg Southall, Health Improvement Practitioner from the same team, visited a couple of our Dudley Places of Welcome to share their Bereavement Kindness Toolkit and a really user friendly animated video that gives great advice on how to come along side someone who is grieving. Take a look here Bereavement Kindness Toolkit - Bereavement Kindness Toolkit - Lets Get (lets-get.com) Thanks to Hope House’s Place of Welcome for providing some really useful contributions to this document.

The information they have compiled on their website can be accessed by anyone, but is used by our Places of Welcome Coordinators to signpost their communities to appropriate help and advice. The website is packed with suggestions of how to support people following the death of a loved one, but also other topics such as pre-bereavement, end of life care, funerals and much more.

For more information please visit https://lets-get.com/explore/bereavement/

and to find a local Place of Welcome for a friendly chat and a free cuppa please visit Places of Welcome - Transforming Communities Together (tctogether.org.uk)

The photos show Greg and Anne visiting Woodside Internet Centre and Top Church Places of Welcome. These Places of Welcome are open to everyone:

Woodside Internet Centre, Hallchurch Road, Holly Hall, Dudley, DY2 0TQ – Monday 10:00 – 15:30

Hope House, Springs Church, 7 Zoar Street, Lower Gornal, Dudley, DY3 2PA – Mondays and Tuesdays 9:30 – 14:30

Top Church, St Thomas and St Luke’s Church, High Street, Dudley, DY1 1QD – Wednesdays 13:00 – 15:00

Lightbreak at St Matthews Tipton pics

Lightbreak at St Matthew's Church, Tipton

Our Places of Welcome are always doing incredible things to make their communities better places to live and to help people’s lives to flourish – week in, week out. Not only do they serve lots of tea and coffee and provide people with biscuits, and often toast and cake, but they also look for ways to engage and entertain their communities too.

At Lightbreak at St Matt’s Place of Welcome they hosted a local Poet! David Bartley was born and bred in Tipton – known as “The Mon from Tipton” and his amusing poem’s feature the local area with a few jokes thrown in too!

David said he was made so welcome and really enjoyed the morning. Caz Morrall, the Place of Welcome Coordinator said “it’s great when you see people really enjoying themselves and having a good time. Even our knitters put down their needles!”

Well done to Caz and her team at Lightbreak at St Matts for inviting David and introducing poetry to their Place of Welcome! You can find this Place of Welcome open every Thursday between 10:00 and 12:30, term time only at St Matthew’s Church Hall, 106 Dudley Road, Tipton, DY4 8DJ.

Park Methadist the Welcome Club

Park Methodist - The Welcome Club

Park Methodist Church’s Welcome Club has joined the Places of Welcome network and is open to everyone, every week on Friday between 10:30 and 12:00.

Pat hosts this welcoming space which provides toast on top of the usual tea, coffee and biscuits. People can just have a chat or there are regulars you can join with, who knit and crochet. Alongside this, they also have a bric-a-brac table and a weekly raffle, so there is plenty of fun and the time flies! The people are very friendly and inclusive and I have enjoyed chatting with this lovely community. If you are local to Binfield Street, Tipton, DY4 8LS - please go along to make new friends!

Morrisons Blog

Morrison’s Community Champion

As Places of Welcome Facilitator for the Black Country, I make it my goal to tell as many people as I can about all of the wonderful Places of Welcome in the network. Recently, I reached out to local supermarket community champions to ask if they would promote the Places of Welcome in their neighbourhood and let their communities know about this amazing project.

Serina Sahota, a Morrison’s Community Champion for Bescot store in Walsall responded and kindly shared all of the Black Country Places of Welcome information on her social media account, but then she also went one step further and offered donations of tea, biscuits and sweets to Walsall Places of Welcome.

I shared this kind offer with the Walsall Coordinators and three responded, so last week Serina and I visited these Places of Welcome to deliver hampers of treats. It was clear that Serina enjoyed visiting each venue and finding out about these safe spaces in Walsall where people can connect, belong and contribute, while enjoying free refreshments.

At Bilal Academy in Palfrey, Serina was given a tour of the facility and told not only about their Tuesday afternoon Place of Welcome but about other activities and services they provide, such as free counselling services. At Holy Ascension she listened as Susan told her about their lively group and about the different fund raising activities they have recently supported, such as Air Ambulance, Mind, Macmillan and Birmingham’s Children’s Hospital – as well as, of course providing a great community coffee club once week on Wednesday mornings. Last but not least Serina visit Stan Ball Centre and enjoyed a cuppa and chat with locals before entering into a fun seated aerobic session with activity coordinator Karen. Stan Ball centre are open throughout the week for bookable sessions. Serina learned that each Place of Welcome is different, but that with all of them five criteria are met, there is an accessible place, open to anyone, free provision of tea, coffee and at least a biscuit, someone who will listen and talk to you and the opportunity to get involved.

I am thankful to Serina and Morrisons for the donations, which were gratefully received, and her time visiting Places of Welcome. I look forward to visiting more venues together in future. For your nearest Place of Welcome please visit www.placesofwelcome.org.uk or for the Black Country specifically Places of Welcome - Transforming Communities Together (tctogether.org.uk)

The Church of the Holy Spirit Rugeley Place of Welcome

The Church of the Holy Spirit, Rugeley Place of Welcome

As we can see from the photo of group co-ordinator, Kathy, outside The Church of the Holy Spirit, Rugeley Place of Welcome WS15 2TL , this group is especially welcoming of our four-legged friends, being as it is on a popular dog-walking route.

This Place of Welcome meets on Tuesdays from 11.00am to 1.00pm and offers companionship, cake and an astonishing range of ground and instant coffees, as well as a great cup of tea! Kathy and her husband take particular care to always ensure the coffee is good, and everything there is free of charge.

There's a lovely, welcoming atmosphere, with folks chatting and coming and going at ease. Guests often also take part in craft activities and table quizzes. Lesley Bovington, Places of Welcome Facilitator, was told on her recent visit that the local posties sometimes pop in for a cuppa, too, and one of them has been kind enough to donate biscuits to the group - now that's a special delivery we can all approve!

Lichfield Library Place of Welcome Twitter

Lichfield Library Place of Welcome offered spookily delicious Halloween treats!

Lichfield Library Place of Welcome offered spookily delicious Halloween treats to its guests today, Tuesday 26th October, as demonstrated in our pictures here by volunteer, Alison and guest, Hugh! Eyeball sweets aside, there was also plenty of cake, biscuits, tea and coffee, all accompanied by lively chatter. Regular guest, Dereck (pictured behind Alison and fellow guest, Angela) sums up this Place of Welcome as, "coffee, chat, community", and we couldn't agree more!

This Place of Welcome meets on Tuesday afternoons 2.00 to 4.00pm in The Hub at St Mary's, the wonderful space above Lichfield Library WS13 6LG. Currently, it's unable to meet on the first Tuesday of each month, but this will hopefully change after Christmas.

St Newman Cluster

St Newman Cluster

As Places of Welcome Facilitator for the Black Country, I was delighted when not one, not two, not three – but four new Places of Welcome joined the network from the St Newman Cluster of Churches led by Lynne Richards, and supported by Father Craig Fullard. The four Places of Welcome open on different days of the week after Mass, but you do not have to attend Mass or indeed be of Roman Catholic faith to attend the Places of Welcome. As with every coffee morning or drop-in in the network, everyone is invited to come along and enjoy free refreshments in good company. If you go along to St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Wolverhampton you are treated to homemade soup and a roll, and at the three other venues there is also toast on offer as well as the usual tea, coffee and biscuits.

You can find the Places of Welcome at the following venues – and having attended all of them I can report that they are all very welcoming and there is always someone to chat with.

St Mary's Catholic Church, Leveson Street, Willenhall, WV13 1DA - Mondays 10:30am - 11:30am

St Joseph's Catholic Church, Church Street, Darlaston, Walsall, WS10 8DY - Tuesdays 10:30am - 11:30am

St Joseph's Catholic Church, Stowheath Lane, Wolverhampton, WV1 2QN - Wednesdays 12pm - 1pm

Holy Trinity Catholic Church (Opposite Bushfield Court Nursing Home), Oxford Street, Bilston, WV14 0PX - Fridays 11:00am - 12:00pm

If you are local to Darlaston, Bilston, Willenhall or Wolverhampton – why not stop by and make connections in your local community!

St Marks Shelfield

St Mark's Parish Church, Shelfield

St Mark’s Parish Church has reopened its Place of Welcome and is a great place to go to chat and relax. Places of Welcome Coordinator Sue is keen to encourage new people to come along. The Place of Welcome is open to anyone, serves free refreshments and there is always a good level of chat and laughter. While I was there we talked about our beloved pets and trips to the dreaded vets (sorry Vets!). I was shown some of the beautiful handiwork made at this friendly coffee morning, knitted items of clothing that are sent to Africa or bonnets that are sent to Children’s hospital wards for premature babies. One project that is currently underway is that to knit a Christmas Tree! Although the group are aiming for its completion by Christmas 2022, not this year. The Christmas Tree will be made up of many knitted or crocheted squares, then adorned with knitted or crocheted decorations. Sue kindly sorted out some spare green wool for me to take away and have a go at knitting a square or two for the project – I only hope that my efforts will be placed at the back of the tree, so as not to spoil it!

If you live locally to Shelfield, would like to make new friends, get involved in a craft activity or just sit and have a chat – then please go to St Mark’s Parish Church, Green Lane, Shelfield, Walsall, WS4 1RN, every Tuesday between 11:00 and 13:00.

Wednesbury Baptist Church

Wednesbury Baptist Church

I had the pleasure of dropping in at the Place of Welcome at Wednesbury Baptist Church this week. It was really lovely to meet everyone there and share a cuppa and a lovely slice of carrot cake! Wednesbury Baptist Church not only provide tea and cake though, they also provide a meal. This week it was a choice of a sausage sandwich or a toastie, and as you can see from the menu, there was also a choice of dessert too. Neil Baker was the Chief Tea Maker that day, who is also affectionately known as Mr Christmas, for yes, his love of all things Christmassy! You can imagine – he is starting to get into full gear and I look forward to returning the their Place of Welcome for a special Christmas Coffee Morning on Wednesday 22nd December, between 11am and 2pm (extended timings for this special event). Hot pork or turkey sandwiches will be available – followed by cake, of course! It was great that when I was there, I was able to collect Christmas Decorations that community members had been crafting for the Places of Welcome Christmas Tree that will be part of the Lichfield Cathedral Christmas Tree Festival. What a lovely group – they even came to the aid of a couple who had broken down outside their church! Wednesbury Baptist Church on Vicar Street, Wednesbury, WS10 9HF, host their Place of Welcome every Wednesday lunchtime between 12:00 and 13:30 – do go along, enjoy a meal, and make new friends!

Andys House Whitmore Reans

Places of Welcome - St Andrew's Church, Whitmore Reans (Andy's House)

It was fantastic to visit St Andrew’s Church’s Place of Welcome last week, lovingly known as Andy’s House, and meet with the members of the community that meet there. Mostly Moms with babies and toddlers, it was clear that the group really is a great way for them to meet, chat, encourage and support each other. There was lots of good humour and laughter as they chatted about anything and everything, from bin collections, to stray cats and to what ingredients should and shouldn’t be in coleslaw! Everyone seemed very at home with each other and welcoming of each other. Free drinks are on offer along with a huge range of individually wrapped biscuits – I was spoilt for choice. If you would like to end the week on a high, then go along to this Place of Welcome, make new friends over a free cuppa and biscuit and find out what’s going on locally – St Andrew’s has a wide range of sign-posting information to support you. You can find this Place of Welcome at St Andrew’s Close, Whitmore Reans, Wolverhampton, WV6 0QZ every Friday between 9:30am and 12 noon.

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Linking Lives, Aldridge Methodist Church

Set around a large central table with a jolly gingham table cloth, the local community of Aldridge meet, chat and enjoy a free cup of tea or coffee. Having just recently started meeting again, local community members are starting to return to this group, catch up with each other and share news. It is clear that this group of people care for each other and miss each other when they are not there – and these people are contacted by phone just to make sure they are OK. After my first cuppa, I was offered a toasted tea cake and then another cuppa and another toasted tea cake – such is the generosity! A selection of board games were also on offer and there is access to snooker tables too – or you can just have a friendly chat. Linking Lives Place of Welcome at Aldridge Methodist Church is open to anyone, and is open every Monday between 10:00 and 12:00 on Anchor Road, Aldridge, WS9 8PT – it’s a great way to spend a Monday morning! If you would like to contact Linking Lives, Aldridge Methodist to find out more or for support in attending the group, please call on mobile number 07307865973 or email Aldridge@linkinglives.uk

The Church of the Good Shepherd Rugeley

The Church of the Good Shepherd, Rugeley

The Church of the Good Shepherd, Rugeley Place of Welcome WS15 1LS promises a warm welcome from everyone there, including Monty and Milo, the church dogs, pictured here with the group co-ordinator, Lorna, and a few of her happy regulars. This Place of Welcome meets on Tuesdays from 12 noon to 2.00pm and offers a light lunch and a cuppa, entirely free of charge. Members of the church have also been repainting the rooms recently, so everywhere is looking shiny, bright and inviting.

Lorna would love to offer all kinds of activities, according to whatever people would like to do. She's planning an eco-garden in the outdoors area, and there's a good amount of space inside for dancing, too, with expert pointers on hand from regular guest and resident "twinkle-toes", Chris, for anyone who would like to join in with that. Arts and crafts are also planned, with everyone welcome to bring their own projects to the group, and plenty of knitting and crochet experience and expertise amongst the group.

Denys, a regular guest, says of her Tuesday visits to this Place of Welcome, "It's the only thing that gets me out of the house. I'd just be stuck in the house, otherwise."

The Gap Christian Family Centre

Please welcome The Gap Christian Family Centre to the Places of Welcome network, here in the Black Country.

The Gap Christian Family Centre has decided to open as a Place of Welcome at Hargate Lane, West Bromwich, B71 1PH, every Wednesday between 11:30 and 13:00, serving free teas, coffees and biscuits. If you want to make a morning of it, from 9:30 until 11:30 The Gap Centre also serve a reasonably priced breakfast, with a full English costing £2 and extra toast just 30p! However from 11:30 the drinks and biscuits are on the house!

Louise who runs the Place of Welcome has a real heart for her community and intends to hold quizzes and craft activities within the Place of Welcome, but it’s also fine to just go along for a cuppa and chat. Louise has lots of other ideas for the centre so once you have been to the Place of Welcome, you might find that you want to attend Line Dancing or one of the other activities she will arrange. She also has a lot of local knowledge about other activities going on in the local area. Go along to this gem in West Bromwich on Wednesday mornings to make new friends, chat and laugh over a free cuppa, and find out what is going on locally in your area.

St Matthews Wolverhampton

St Matthew's Wolverhampton

Another little bit of info about St Matthew’s Wolves…

This week I visited the Place of Welcome at St Matthew’s Church in Wolverhampton, which runs alongside a Job Club and a Toddler Group. As with every Place of Welcome I have visited, I was soon included in the conversation with a cup of coffee in my hand, the hosts pulled up a chair for me at the table and made sure I was introduced. I had spent the previous week with my teenagers, as I had taken annual leave for half term school holidays, and it was lovely to chat with them about what we had been up to and to share experiences of raising teenagers with other people in the group – who had lots of advice and stories to share, with good humour and laughter. What was clear from the people I talked to is that they had a heart for their community and hoped to come alongside people in their community by simply spending time with them, over a cuppa. St Matthew’s Church provide free refreshments between 9:00 and 11:00 on a Monday morning – along with a friendly chat. You can find them on East Park Way, Wolverhampton, WV1 2DN.

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All Saints Church Darlaston and Moxley

Meet Rev’d Gilbert David. Not only does he host one Place of Welcome – but two! Here he is outside of All Saints Church on Walsall Road, Darlaston, WS10 9LA. This Place of Welcome is open on Thursdays between 10:00 and 12:00 offering a free cuppa and biscuit. However, if you would prefer a weekend, then go along to All Saint’s Church on Church Street, Moxley, WS10 8RD on Saturdays between 10:00 and 12:00 for the same warm welcome and free refreshments.

Rainbows Community Centre

Places of Welcome - Rainbow Community Centre

After having exchanged emails and seeing Shona and Dave from Just Straight Talk on Zoom calls through the pandemic, it was finally great to meet them in person at their Place of Welcome at The Rainbow Community Centre last week. Arriving to see the Places of Welcome notice and a freshly painted building, I was greeted warmly and soon invited to join a very lively table of conversation and activity, with a cup of tea. The biscuits I had taken along, were soon opened and shared among the group and later cake was on offer too.

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Places of Welcome Coordinator Meeting Thursday 14th October

Thank you Maggie Harris and Emma Sealey from Hope House, Springs Church for hosting my first Places of Welcome Coordinator meeting since I joined the Transforming Communities Together team and the first Black County Coordinator meeting since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Over a brunch of pastries, muffins, fresh fruit and yoghurt we were able to catch up, in person, to celebrate our successes, discuss our challenges, help each other with suggestions and to find solutions, and then look towards the future and our hopes for our Places of Welcome. It was an encouraging time knowing that we are all a team, a network of like-minded people that have a common goal, to see our communities thrive and flourish.

We were delighted to welcome a guest, Greg Southall to our meeting, a Health Improvement Practitioner from Dudley Council’s Health and Wellbeing team. He really engaged in the meeting, lending his experience and expertise and also sharing with us the Five Ways to Wellbeing. He reminded us to apply these five approaches to our own lives as well as support people with them in our Places of Welcome and we were able to recognise how the Five Ways to Wellbeing closely align with Places of Welcome’s 5 P’s (Place, People, Provision, Presence and Participation)

I am very much looking forward to our next Coordinator meeting on Tuesday 11th January 2022 at 2pm, venue to be confirmed.

St Mary Magdalene Website

St Mary Magdalene Church, West Bromwich

St Mary Magdalene Church host a Place of Welcome on the Charlemont Farm estate, every Wednesday morning between 10am and 12pm, with free tea, coffee and a generous supply of biscuits. The group that meet there are a friendly bunch and are always looking to include more community members into their group. I have to admit though, that although I could not have wished to chat to nicer people, the real treat for me was to meet Outreach Worker, Julie Powell’s gorgeous dog, Sosage! She is a vegetarian dog, who loves mini cucumber, clearly loved by everyone who attends the Place of Welcome and certainly the star of the group! Want to make new friends or throw a ball for Sosage? Then please go along to St Mary Magdalene, Beaconview Road, Charlemont Farm, West Bromwich, B71 3PJ.

St Augustones Rugeley

St Augustine's, Rugeley

There's no doubt that members of the St Augustine's, Rugeley Place of Welcome group WS15 2HG are getting ready for the festive season, as we can see from this picture of group co-ordinator, Dawn, holding a cheery knitted Santa. Regular guest, Felicity, is also pictured putting some finishing touches to a beautifully decorated clothes hanger - a perfect Christmas gift!

This very talented arts and crafts group is producing tiny chocolate tea-pots, too (each with a well-known chocolate nestling inside!) and has kindly offered to provide some for our Places of Welcome themed Christmas tree at Lichfield Cathedral's Christmas Tree Festival THE CHRISTMAS TREE FESTIVAL - Lichfield Cathedral (lichfield-cathedral.org) We've asked each of our Places of Welcome in the Lichfield Diocese to send us their hand-crafted cuppa and cake themed baubles of all kinds, so our tree will really stand out!

St Augustine's Place of Welcome meets on Tuesday mornings, from 10.00am to 12 noon. It not only offers companionship, crafting and a free cuppa and cake to allcomers, it also provides access to a qualified counselling service, also free of charge, and open to all. Carla, the resident counsellor, provides this support through gentle conversation in an area aside from the group, to ensure privacy, of course but everyone she meets with is also more than welcome to spend time with the group, too, and hopefully find further solace and companionship there.

St Matthews Tipton

St Matthew's Tipton

Lightbreak Coffee Morning at St Matthew’s Church, Tipton only reopened three weeks ago but is already seeing large numbers of it’s community return to the Place of Welcome between 10am and 12:30pm every Thursday. Caz Morrall who runs the Place of Welcome along with her husband Paul said the Place of Welcome means as much to her as it does to the people who come along and already they are seeing new members of their community joining in the opportunity to enjoy free tea, toast and biscuits over a friendly conversation.

Andy who volunteers the Place of Welcome says “I have noticed that people who have returned to Lightbreak have really missed each other. This Place of Welcome is an important part of the community and everyone that has returned has brought their own stories of their experience over the Covid-19 pandemic and discussed what they have been through, many of them were on their own. Being back together again has been part of a healing process and people had been yearning to get together again”. Andy was really pleased when the date was set to reopen.

I found the people at Lightbreak really open and friendly and what was really special was that one lady treated us to a beautiful song. There was complete silence and then spontaneous applause! Later on in the year Lightbreak will serve sausage rolls and homemade soup…so I would recommend dropping by St Matthew’s Church, 106 Dudley Road, Tipton, DY4 8DL, Thursdays 10:00am – 12:30pm.

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Christ Church Lye

I have visited the Place of Welcome at Christ Church in Lye twice now and both times have been really pleased to see from the High Street, a gazebo and tables and chairs outside the church, allowing people the option to sit inside or outside at this Place of Welcome, and being a visible presence in the community. There is always a friendly group of people to chat to and volunteers on hand to serve you a tea or coffee and of course, there are free cakes and biscuits too. Once again, as with all our Places of Welcome, everyone is invited and there is a diverse mix of people that attend. If you are passing along the High Street, look out for the new Places of Welcome banner that is going to installed on the church building and pop along between 11am and 1pm every Friday to their Open Door Café, Christ Church, High Street, Lye, Stourbridge, DY9 8LF.

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Church of St Chad's and St Mark's

The best thing about my visit to the Church of St Chad’s and St Mark’s Place of Welcome – had to be the Welcome! Within seconds of arriving, I was sat at a table with a cup of tea and offered a biscuit, but more importantly was really included in the conversations around the table. I didn’t feel like a new member or an outsider, I felt at home straight away – even though I had not met one person there before! There were a great mix of people to talk to, young and old, men and women – from different backgrounds, but we found so much to talk about – sport and music being two of the topics! Everyone enjoyed each other’s company and one gentleman who was there also for the first time used to live on the street, but had never been in the church before – I hope, like me, he will really look forward to a return visit.

The Place of Welcome at the Church of St Chad and St Mark, is open every Friday between 10:30am and 1:00pm and can be found on Lime Street, Wolverhampton, WV3 0EX.

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St Bartholomew's

Last Monday I visited the Place of Welcome at St Bartholomew’s Church in Penn, Wolverhampton and on a Monday morning that was nothing better than being greeted by the sight of a bright and bustling Place of Welcome, filled with chatter and a table groaning under the weight of so many lovely cakes! I had just returned from a holiday in Cornwall and this lovely Coffee Morning certainly chased away my end of holiday blues!

I was quickly seated, introduced to some lovely companions and offered a cuppa, with the option to serve myself to any slice of cake that took my fancy – I chose the homemade Victoria Sponge – which was delicious. Later another lady stopped by my table for a chat, her name was Iris and had been attending this Places of Welcome for 13 years and told me with great warmth and affection of how friendships had been forged through meeting here, that these connections had helped her over the pandemic as she had a list of names and phone numbers that she could call upon when she needed a chat. Iris kindly offered to write down her reflections about the Place of Welcome and you can read what she has to say below. I also spoke to Sally, one of the Places of Welcome Coordinators, who took the time out of serving tea and coffees, to tell me about how much this Place of Welcome meant to the community, she was busy but never without a smile!

If you would like to go along to the Places of Welcome Coffee Morning, you can find it open every Monday between 10am and 12 noon in The Oak Room, St Bartholomew’s Church, Church Hill, Penn, Wolverhampton, WV4 5JB.

Here is what Iris says about her Place of Welcome…..“For many years I have attended the Church of St Bartholomew’s, it is in a beautiful spot in Penn near to Wolverhampton. It has a great many activities for the young and old, but one that opened about 13 years ago was the Coffee Morning, and what a great joy it has brought to many, many people. I lost my husband 13 years ago and we all know how devastating it can be. The coffee morning opened a few weeks later, Joy, Sally and Jo have it open from 10am until 12 noon. The door is open to everyone, men and women, many bereaved, many lonely BUT the fellowship, friendships and love that is shared in the time, in and outside is a joy to behold. The room is full of chatter and laughter and I forgot to mention the beautiful cakes.”

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Betty P of W story

7th September 2021

Betty* and her hand crafted clay flowers - rediscovering skills at her local Place of Welcome!

(*name changed for confidentiality)

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Staffordshire Places of Welcome Co-Ordinators meeting Tuesday 7th September

Lesley Bovington writes:

Thank you to everyone who came to our meeting this week, and especially thanks to St Stephen's for looking after us all so beautifully and to Alistair Dudd for his informative and inspiring talk, in which he reminded us of the wonderful power that Places of Welcome have to ease the lives of those affected by dementia, including evidence that lessening of symptoms continues for days after attendance at groups like ours!

Alistair mentioned how beneficial "Singing for the Brain" groups can be - information about these as well as a huge range of free resources can be found on the national website www.alzheimers.org.uk. And we also talked about becoming advocates for those living with dementia as a Dementia Friend https://www.dementiafriends.org.uk and linking into Transforming Communities Together's work to support churches to become more accessible Diocese of Lichfield | Dementia-Friendly Church (anglican.org)

Alistair is happy for us to circulate his contact details, which are as follows:

Alistair Dudd

Dementia Support – South Staffordshire

Alzheimer's Society

Tel: 01543 573936

Email: alistair.dudd@alzheimers.org.uk

National Dementia Connect number 0333 150 3456

Website: alzheimers.org.uk

Facebook: AlzheimersSocietyWestMidlands

Finally, and very sadly, this was Catherine Pendlebury's last appearance as a Places of Welcome Facilitator. Catherine joined us three months ago on a fixed-term post, kindly funded by the Community Foundation for Staffordshire. She's been to visit as many Places of Welcome as possible in this time, and has very much enjoyed the cake! I know she's sent her own farewell to the Staffordshire Places, but I also know those of you who have been able to get to know Catherine during this short time would wish to join me in thanking her for all her brilliant enthusiasm, helpfulness and hard work - we're all going to miss her very much.

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2nd September 2021 - Brereton Community Library

By TCT's Catherine Pendlebury

With great joy Brereton Community Library reopened their Place of Welcome on Thursday 2nd September. The library is based at Redbrook Hayes School but has its own separate entrance and so there is no need to go into the school. A light, modern building the library has plenty of books! Alongside separate areas to study, relax and even an outdoor display marquee area. You really need to visit to appreciate the space they have. Headed up by Rotarian John Wilson and his lovely volunteer team you will always be given a drink and regulars Julie and Ken chatted to me and made me feel very welcome. The library has been working with other groups to support their community throughout covid supplying books and jigsaws amongst many other ways they have continued their volunteering. Whilst I was there Everyone Health were holding their first ‘in person’ session of their book club to support people with social isolation and anxiety and some people came in to use the photocopying service. The group looks forward to welcoming new people that still aren’t aware they exist over the autumn time with a big belief and encouragement for people to come out in their local area and support their wellbeing with friendly conversations together. From my experience today I can certainly say that you will be very welcome

Thursday’s 9:30 – 12:30

Contact: John Wilson

Email: johnw1912@aol.com

Phone: 07704 807 288

Venue address: Brereton Community Library, Talbot Road, Brereton WS15 1AU

Silverdale Methodist P of W Twitter

1st September 2021 - Silverdale Methodist Church

By TCT's Catherine Pendlebury

Silverdale Methodist Church in Newcastle-Under-Lyme haven’t reopened their church yet but that hasn’t stopped them continuing to welcome people on the car park of their church for a cuppa, chat and even some craft activities! As it was the final few days of the summer holiday when I visited, Children's worker Jayne had organised some things for the children to make whilst enjoying some lovely strawberries. The church continues to distribute an enormous amount of food parcels as I saw Lee lifting boxes and bagging food non- stop whilst I was there (apart from to have his photo taken!!) The voluntary team are looking forward to being back in church as they have many plans including becoming a hybrid church and I wish them every success.

Wednesday’s 2:45 - 3:45pm

Contact: Jayne and Lee Leighton

Email: leeleighton@aol.com

Venue address: Earl Street, Silverdale, Newcastle-under-Lyme ST5 6NF

Monday 9th August 2021 - Curborough Community Centre - Lichfield Cares Good Neighbour Scheme

Friends at Curborough Community Centre are enjoying their weekly conversations, being back together and no longer on zoom! Lots of local chatter which varied from petrol stations to the National Arboretum! The group continues to welcome their community and people pop in and out over the couple of hours. It was thirsty work and everyone refreshed both their conversations and cuppas. The centre is thriving and has lots to offer with so many groups, plans and the garden looks wonderful. Centre Manager Ania is so friendly and knowledgeable alongside volunteers who offer local advice and support where needed.

“I had a really nice afternoon with lovely company and would recommend anyone to put Monday afternoon in their diary and come along.”

Catherine Pendlebury, Place of Welcome Coordinator

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Curborough Community Centre

Monday’s 1pm - 3pm

Contact details: Ania Kluk

Email: manager@curborough.community

Phone: 01543 417 149

Venue address: Reynolds Close, Lichfield WS13 7NY

Tuesday 3rd August Church of the Good Shepherd, Rugeley.

Sitting outside in the summer sunshine it was lovely to meet Lorna from Church of the Good Shepherd who is certainly at the heart of her community. She told me the fantastic history of the church being gifted by the miners of the town, how she has so many happy memories growing up here and that she is hoping to create for the next generation. The Place of Welcome has only just re-opened after lots of work tackling the garden which has grown so much over lockdown. From talking to regulars, I also learnt that Lorna is an amazing cook to add to her many talents and you may find a wonderful homemade cake here when you visit.

Tuesday’s 12-2pm

Contact: Lorna

Email:

Phone: Parish Office – 01889 574157

Venue address: Pear Tree Estate, Hislop Road, Rugeley WS15 1LS

Thursday 29th July Amington Parish Church, Tamworth.

Amington Parish Church continues to provide a very warm welcome to their community on Thursday afternoons. You could not keep count of the many drinks Mandy and her fantastic team made as the afternoon went on and people came in! (at least four each) As the holidays are now in full swing it was great to see families and their regulars enjoying each other's company. When asked what the secret formula, Mandy said “her wonderful volunteers, contacts and connections”. The group are having new people come each week. There are weekly quizzes which get everyone thinking and lots of laughter when the answers are read out. The church continues its outreach community work and is looking forward to having their toddler and craft groups returning soon. A beautiful Church in Amington, if you are ever nearby Tamworth call in – you will definitely leave refreshed!

Thursday’s 2pm - 4pm

Contact: Mandy Widdas

Email: mandy@amington.church

Phone: 01827 62573

Venue address: The Green, Amington, Tamworth B77 4AD

Bilal Academy are the latest member of the Places of Welcome family – and is open to anyone, Tuesday between 2pm and 3:30pm on Milton Street in Palfrey.

I am delighted that Bilal Academy has joined the Places of Welcome network, their enthusiasm for engaging and enhancing their community regardless of race, gender and background closely aligns with Transforming Communities Together’s vision to support all people and communities to thrive and flourish.

This week there was such a generous provision of food – presented beautifully – equal to a party buffet or a fancy afternoon tea! There was a very relaxing atmosphere, with plenty of good conversation and laughter.

Maulana Ebrahim Esakjee said “I am happy to host a Place of Welcome after the difficult times we have had, to bring the community together and put a smile on people’s faces, and they will leave feeling better”

Shaz Akhtar, the Black Country Near Neighbours Coordinator said “It is always a pleasure to be working closely with the Bilal Academy Trustees and volunteers. They are always striving to bring communities together in Palfrey and beyond. A Place of Welcome in the heart of Palfrey is definitely a plus here! Well done to the team at Bilal Academy.

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Comments from the volunteers and community members were also positive.

Helper Suleman Salloo said “I am glad to be involved in the setting up of the Place of Welcome and I thoroughly enjoyed talking to local residents in a safe and welcoming space”

Amina Ravat said “After a long stay at home because of lockdown it was lovely to be able to enjoy a lovely tea afternoon with the ladies, where we supported and talked to each other about our experience through the Covid-19 pandemic”

Aysha Hafesi said “I attended the Place of Welcome and enjoyed the afternoon with members of the community at Bilal Academy. Lovely multicultural food, lovely group of volunteers, a very well spent afternoon.”

Indeed it was a very enjoyable afternoon, with biscuits, cakes, fruit, samosas and a new dish I had not tried before called paturi, which was delicious, followed by some lovely desserts, but more importantly, I made new friends and Maulana Ebrahim was absolutely right – I came away feeling much better!

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Huge thanks to the Express & Star for covering this.

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Friday 23rd July - A new Places of Welcome has opened at St Mark’s Church, Ocker Hill

A wonderful morning visiting the new ⁦‪Place of Welcome‬⁩ at Saint Mark’s Church, Ocker Hill, Tipton. Great to meet lots of new friendly faces and hear about plans for a new community centre kitchen.

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Woodside Internet Centre: Roy, Andrew and Brian

19th July 21 - Woodside Internet Centre

On Monday (19th July 21) I had the pleasure of dropping into the Place of Welcome at Woodside Internet Centre and it was a welcome respite from the heat outside, to sit in the centre and have a chat, free cuppa and biscuit. Woodside Internet Centre is a great resource for its community and is open between 10am and 3:30pm every Monday on Hallchurch Road, Holly Hall, Dudley, DY2 0TQ. Not only is it a welcoming space to make new friends, find out what’s going on locally and have a conversation over free refreshments, but between the hours of 10am and 12:30pm they host a foodbank, jointly supported by three churches along the same road, as well as provide free internet services with laptop stations dotted around the room.

Brian Handy, who runs the Place of Welcome explained that not everyone has access to the internet, they don’t have computers or they don’t have Wi-Fi, so by coming here people can access emails, prepare CV’s, search for jobs, or just even play computer games and listen to music. Often, using a computer can be a solitary activity, but here there is always someone around to support, offer advice and chat to. While I was there I met a lady who really enjoyed her time at the centre and used the computers to watch and sing along to music from YouTube. Another gentleman, Chris, regularly goes to the centre and having really great IT skills, now helps with any problems that might arise and helps others. On sharing his experience of Place of Welcome, Chris said:

"Being Bipolar in the past I’ve often found it easy to isolate myself. In an attempt to tackle this going forward I received a referral to Woodside community centre and started engaging with the staff and projects there. This lead me to participating in the internet café at Woodside church and eventually assisting with the upkeep of the IT equipment and networking as a way to give back to a group that was both open and accepting when I first arrived. I have also found that having a regular commitment that involves helping others is also a good motivational tool as part of my own mental health regime."

Places of Welcome are founded on five key principles, Place – accessible to all, People – to welcome and host, Provision – free refreshments and signposting information, Presence – People who take time to listen and Participation – encouraging people who come to use their skills and talents – and all of these 5P’s were demonstrated on my visit.

Carrie Blount, Black Country Places of Welcome Facilitator

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Place of Welcome at Holy Ascension in Lower Farm, Bloxwich

Carrie writes:

"Leslie Harris, who helps to run the Place of Welcome at Holy Ascension in Lower Farm, Bloxwich, has let me know how a couple of ladies have been looking after their mental health and raising money for MIND. Her words are below….

Lockdown doesn’t always mean nothing to do. Margaret has been busy knitting dolls to help raise money for the charity Mind, she has knitted over 20 different dolls taking an average of two weeks to complete each project, she said it has been great fun and has helped both her and her sister Susan’s mental health, as with everyone during this uncertain time mental health is a real issue . They have been selling them at the Wednesday Coffee Club (Place of Welcome) and raised £100 for Mind .
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St Matthew's Church, Walsall

Last week saw the reopening of St Matthew’s Church, Place of Welcome in Walsall. Sara, Pat and Gillian were on hand to welcome me to the Church, offer me a cup of coffee and a cake, and to sit and have a chat. Sara said that things were not quite back to normal at their Place of Welcome, as they were taking things slowly, but she was pleased the church was open and explained that St Matthew’s Church attracts a lot of visitors from all over the country – indeed the world – and that prior to the Covid-19 pandemic they had visitors from Australia, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Denmark, Poland, Romania, Italy and Malaysia, amongst others, all looking to find out information about their family history and connections to the church.

For Sara it is important that the Church is now open again, so that people can come in say a prayer and light a candle, but as it also hosts a Place of Welcome, visitors and community members of any faith or none can come in for a free cuppa, local information or just to see a friendly face and have a chat. Already on their reopening day they had several visitors drop by, one from as far away Cambridge and then more close to home a gentleman who had been recommended to come along by his GP Social Prescriber as a way of getting out of the house and making new friends – and he said he would return the next week!

St Matthew’s holds a special place in my heart, as I was married there. It is a beautiful church, in a prominent position in Walsall, so I can understand why people are drawn to visit. St Matthew’s Church Place of Welcome is open between 10:00am and 4:00pm on Tuesdays, St Matthew’s Close, Walsall, WS1 3DG.

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Holy Trinity Church, Heath Town.

The sun was shining on Holy Trinity Church, Heath Town for the reopening of their Place of Welcome on Saturday morning. The lovely weather meant that the Place of Welcome could spill outside into the grounds of the church. Tables and chairs were set up outside as well as inside and the choice was yours where to sit. People were chatting and catching up outside, while children were free to run around and volunteers took your order from the menu and served you at your table. My husband and I really did receive a great welcome, people went out of their way to chat to us, and we felt it was a real treat for our tea and biscuits to be served to us! And, of course, this generous provision is completely free of charge and is for everyone, young and old – they even had activity bags to keep the little ones amused. Although we chatted outside for some time, we sat a table indoors and also had the pleasure of hearing some live music as the band rehearsed – it was a great start to the weekend!

Holy Trinity, Heath Town’s Place of Welcome is on Saturday between 10:30am and 12:30pm on Bushbury Road, Heath Town, Wolverhampton, WV10 0LY.

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St Stephen’s Church, Fradley.

The beautiful St Stephen’s Church in Fradley village near Lichfield have re-opened their Wednesday Welcome. From 2pm – 4pm the church is open for refreshments and friendly conversation. St. Stephen's Church is home to the war graves of a number of Australian aircrew and one German Luftwaffe pilot who lost their lives during World War II and there is a memorial to all who served at RAF Lichfield.

Place of Welcome Coordinator Catherine Pendlebury visited last week and said “The group had decorated tables with spring flowers alongside their cups, sauces, cakes and biscuits it looked so pretty. Reverend Elizabeth and Dot are very pleased to be able to have their Wednesdays back and hope they can encourage more villagers or anyone passing by to come in”. A Strawberry Tea and other events are planned over the next few months so lots to look forward to.

Wednesdays 2pm - 4pm

Contact details: Dot Giles

Email: dot_giles@hotmail.co.uk

Phone: 01283 487 831

Venue address: St Stephen’s Church Fradley, 82 Church Lane WS13 8NL

Ron Bentley All Ages CROPPED
Ron Davies

Ron's Story

Ron was referred to Bentley All Ages Activity Centre, Place of Welcome by his daughter after she expressed concerns for his health and well-being.

Ron had recently lost his wife to cancer and had become very insular and isolated. He had also lost a daughter to cancer and the daughter seeking support for him had, herself, undergone surgery for cancer and was waiting for the “all clear”. The impact on her father had been enormous as he felt he had not protected his family and he could not control what was happening to his family. He had become frail; didn’t leave the house and he too became ill with cancer.

Ronald came along to the Place of Welcome, made friends and spoke openly about his bereavements and his concern about his daughter. He spoke of his feelings and the loneliness he felt since losing his wife. He was happy to begin by attending the Place of Welcome coffee morning but quite quickly joined other social activities and luncheon clubs.

As time went on, Ron became more and more confident, becoming one of the larger characters at the centre. So much so, that when we approached him about becoming a befriender he was absolutely delighted. We put Ron through an online qualification. Ron had never used a computer, so we attached another of our befriending team to him that was also doing the qualification, and they navigated the course together. Ron proved to be a very willing student and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Ron has now become the clown of the befriending team and his daughter’s concerns have changed from worry about his health and mental health, to “don’t be out too late and behave yourself”.

Ron says he has found a life for himself that has allowed his daughter to return to work without concern for him. He greets everyone that comes into the coffee morning and other activities, putting them at their ease, offering a hand of friendship. His skills and service have become invaluable. We are pleased to say, that both his daughter and Ron have now been given the all clear from cancer.

What a wonderful example of how attending a Place of Welcome can not only enrich your life, but also the lives of those in your community. For more information about Place of Welcome visit www.placesofwelcome.org.uk and for more information about Bentley All Ages Activity Centre please visit their website Old Hall Peoples partnership | Walsall (ohpp.org.uk) or Facebook page (5) Bentley All Ages Activity Centre | Facebook

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St Michael's Church, Rocester - Craftea Club

"I had a lovely afternoon at the Craftea Club which is a Place of Welcome that takes place from the beautiful St Michaels Church in the pretty village of Rocester on Mondays 1pm - 3pm. A very talented group of ladies headed up by the affectionally named ‘boss’ Susan Maiden-Dalton' showed me all the things they were and had made for their summer fete which they are all looking forward to at the end of July. They will have a fundraising stall with their crafts and demonstrations displaying their many talents. Along with their skills they were also putting together a book of photographs as part of their dementia project in church.

Two orders of drinks were taken whilst I was there, keeping the kettle hot and the biscuit tin in rotation around the tables. Since re-opening their group they have welcomed new people alongside everyone who was so pleased to all be back together. There is a warm welcome here on Monday afternoons whether you are a crafter or enjoy drink and chat this wonderful group will make sure you leave with a smile."

Catherine Pendlebury, Places of Welcome Co-ordinator; July 5th 2021

Mondays 1pm - 3pm

Contact details: Susan Maiden-Dalton, Email: norwich@btinternet.com; Phone: 0781 608 3441

Venue address: St Michaels Church, Rocester. WS14 5NA

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Reopening of Hope House, Gornal - Place of Welcome

I had a really fantastic visit to Hope House this week, located on Zoar Street in Gornal, Dudley. Maggie and Emma gave me a guided tour and a long awaited look at their community garden, which they had worked on over lockdown. The colourful garden has flowers, herbs and vegetables growing, with a large table under a lovely gazebo where you can sit and relax. David showed me the bumper crop of broad beans he had picked and enjoys the garden in Hope House along with sharing a few jokes with the regulars.

Maggie and Emma told me that over lockdown they had managed to keep in touch with their local community with phone calls and that these phone calls while no replacement for seeing each other face to face, had given them the opportunity to grow deeper friendships and strengthen relationships that could now flourish again face to face.

Everyone I spoke to in Hope House had positive things to say about this clean, bright and welcoming space, they come every week, and even on busy days – like moving house - still take time out to just pop in for an hour because they know they can relax, have a cuppa and see a friendly face. Well, I actually enjoyed two cups of tea and a slice of Sue’s homemade lemon cake while I was there, watching people come and go, always with a smile on their face.

The really good news is that not only are Hope House open on Mondays and Tuesdays, 9.30am - 2.30pm but they are now also opening their doors for an extra day during the school summer holidays – so you can now find the same welcome, between 9:30am and 2:30pm on Wednesdays as well! I hope you go along to Hope House!

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Opening of a NEW Place of Welcome - St Aiden's Church, Cannock

Wednesday 30th June

St Aidens, Chadsmoor – Cannock (NEW) 4th week of opening

St Aiden’s Church Hall had the hot drinks flowing on their fourth week of opening. They were missing the weather to sit outside this week but there was lots of catch-up conversations going on and the regular postman pops in on his rounds for refreshment. The three ladies who serve the drinks were kept very busy with orders whilst welcoming everyone with smiles hidden under their masks! St Aidens is another Place Of Welcome that is growing in popularity in the local area of Chadsmoor. James Flintham Community Officer from Support Staffordshire goes most weeks as his work covers the area. He supports the group and make links with other local activities that people may like information about. Catherine Pendlebury, Places of Welcome Coordinator said “I was made very welcome on my first visit, the ladies make a super cup of coffee and show kindness to everyone.”

Wednesdays 11am – 12:30

Contact: Rev Nicola Upton Smith Email: vicar@chadsmoor@gmail.com Phone: 01543 505 706 / 075 355 826 64

Venue address: Albert Street Chadsmoor Cannock WS11 5JD

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Opening of a NEW Place of Welcome - Kingswood Trust, Wolverhampton

In partnership with Transforming Communities Together, Kingswood Trust is the latest member of the Places of Welcome network to open it’s doors, providing a warm welcome to all, and I had the pleasure of attending on their opening day, alongside a photographer from the Express and Star.

Kingswood Trust is an outdoor education centre on Holyhead Road, Kingswood, Wolverhampton, WV7 3AP, focusing on learning with nature and is open to all ages. There is something for everyone, including conservation, wildlife surveying, gardening, animal care, maintenance, events volunteering as well as indoor activities such as crafts, making educational resources and activities for events. Kingswood Trust are fully inclusive offering opportunities for adults of all abilities and interests and will find out what participants enjoy to give them an activity which suits them best.

While I was there, I saw Mo and Mandy helping with a spot of weeding in the courtyard, David, Murray and Tony laying some slabs by the large chicken coop, which alongside chickens held Indian Runner ducks, and saw some of the younger volunteers digging out a raised bed, with a view to making it into a work surface so that the community can gather round it and work on it together. Then it was tools down for a cuppa and cake served by Aldona. But don’t worry if that all sounds too strenuous, there are plenty of other activities on offer and existing volunteers will come alongside you and find the perfect opportunity for you.

Helen Heywood, responsible for Community Engagement at Kingwood Trust will introduce people and get them involved. She says "Our aim is to get people relaxing in our nature spaces, to enjoy the fresh air, the seasons and to feel happy. A morning here, on Mondays and Tuesdays offers volunteering, the company of others and a hot drink and cake through interacting with each other and nature."

Kingswood Trust is an accessible and self-contained, nine-acre site, right on the doorstep of many local communities in Wolverhampton. Please come along to this beautiful location, meet new people, help out, and enjoy a free cuppa and cake! Kingswood Places of Welcome is open every Monday and Tuesday morning between 9:00am and 12:30pm and started this Monday 28th June.

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Opening of a NEW Place of Welcome - Brereton Community Hub

Today I joined the excitement of the opening of Brereton Community Hub’s new Place Of Welcome which takes place from their own venue on Armitage Road in Brereton from 9:30am until 10:30am every Tuesday. You will receive a very warm welcome from their very friendly volunteers who have worked so hard to get the Place of Welcome open knowing how important it is to support and encourage their residents to get out and about and meet their community

Community Manager Sam Rushton said “We want to enable our residents to step out of their doors and get back to meeting up again or even coming to us for the first time. The hub is compliant with Covid-19 requirements to keep everyone safe and you only need to wear your mask on entering and walking around inside the building so no worries with chatting and having as many cuppas as you like.”

From listening to everyone today it is clear that this amazing group of volunteers have made such a difference to their area over the past twelve months and are now building on this to give people another opportunity to meet together at their hub - with biscuits too! Coordinator Sarah Langdon also told me about the different groups and plans they have with craft and growing activities so they are definitely a group to visit.

Catherine Pendlebury, Place of Welcome Coordinator

Tuesdays 9:30am-10:30am

Contact details: Sam Rushton Email: breretoncommunityhub@gmail.com

Phone: 07922 067 201

Venue address: 101 Armitage Road. WS15 1DF

You can find more information about Brereton Community Hub at: www.breretonmillion.co.uk Transforming Communities Together www.tctogether.org.uk is the delivery arm for Places of Welcome www.placesofwelcome.org.uk in the Lichfield Diocese.

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Brereton Hub Building

Reopening of Bentley All Ages Activity Centre

I had the pleasure of visiting Bentley All Ages Activity Centre recently. Bentley All Ages Activity Centre prior to the Covid-19 pandemic hosted a Place of Welcome, every week, on Tuesday between 11am and 1pm, but because of restrictions and wanting to keep their community safe, Diana, Dawn and the team are using a booking system, so that you can still attend the centre, but managing the number of guests and ensuring their safety. Call Dawn on 01922 721097 and she will book you a space, on either Monday between 10am and 2pm, Wednesday 11am until 3pm or Fridays 10am until 1pm.

However, nothing has changed with the warm welcome that awaits. On arrival you take a seat at a table, spaced out for social distancing, enjoy chatting to the other community members and are served a lovely free cuppa and a biscuit. For a small charge you can also have a piece of cake (with cream!). On a fine day, like the day I visited, you could also sit outside in the fresh air, in the sun-trap courtyard with lovely hanging baskets.

Dawn was on hand to chat, provide newspapers to read and give support to all who attended. I found out that Dawn was encouraging some ladies to count their steps for fitness, had arranged gardening services for one and helped with Ring and Ride transport for another. For one lady it was her first time to the centre after losing her husband last year. It was a big step to take, but she was encouraged by Dawn and welcomed by those around her at the session. Another lady kindly offered to buy her a different type of face mask, that might work better with her spectacles, for when she next visited.

Places of Welcome really do help local community members to belong, connect and participate. So call 01922 721097 to book your place!

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Read Ron's story here

Reopening of The Priory Pharmacy Community Garden - Place of Welcome

Did you know that behind The Priory Community Pharmacy in Dudley there is a community garden? I was delighted when The Priory Pharmacy Community Garden decided to host a Place of Welcome, but Covid-19 sadly delayed their launch. However, Alison and Jacqui who tend the garden along with other volunteers, have now unlocked the side gate and opened the community garden on a Monday between 2pm and 4pm to welcome their local community with a free cuppa and slice of cake!

I can’t think of a better way to start your week, than inside this small urban oasis. So if you are local to The Priory Pharmacy Community Garden why not drop by on Monday afternoon? You could roll up your sleeves and help with the garden or you can just take a seat under the shade of the parasol, enjoy friendly conversation and free refreshments, while enjoying the view of the garden.

When I visited, I was shown the garden, which has so many herbs and vegetables growing in it, I would not be able to recall them all, along with a bed of beautiful purple flowers which the bees love. I then took up the offer of a cup of coffee and a generous piece of Alison’s homemade chocolate cake – which was delicious. I even took a cheeky selfie with the community garden scarecrow! Just taking time out to spend with other people, relaxing, enjoying the sunshine, fresh air and garden really lifted my spirits and I left the garden with a real sense of wellbeing. But don’t worry, if it isn’t sunny when you go – there is room inside to shelter and still receive a warm welcome.

The Priory Pharmacy Community Garden really does have a lot to offer and I look forward to a repeat visit and seeing the harvest it reaps!

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Alison Burton and Jacqui Dalton
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Reopening of Place of Welcome - St James Church, Brownhills (Walsall)

Not far from the bustling High Street in Brownhills, in beautifully kept grounds, stands St James’ Church (on Church Road) which has just reopened it’s Place of Welcome on Tuesday morning between 10am and 12 noon, to welcome it’s local community.

The vicar at St James’ Church, Rev’d Gayle Greenway says, 'Having a Place of Welcome is very important to us at St James' because we believe that there is something very special and significant about people knowing that they can come along to a safe place where they can just be themselves and know that they are fully welcome. I pray that our Place of Welcome will provide opportunities for new friendships to be formed, as well as old ones deepened, and that through all that happens here, God's love will be made real'.

Hosts Joy, Dennis and Pauline are there weekly and invite you to join them in a relaxed and informal setting, in the foyer of the church, with free refreshments and friendly chat. St James’ Church has a real heart for the Brownhills Community and are keen to welcome everyone, young and old, so if you are passing by on the way to and from the shops, or after you have dropped the kids to school, please drop-in for a cuppa, meet new people in your community and find out what’s happening in the local area. Joy, Dennis and Pauline have the kettle on ready and a listening ear for everyone.

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Reopening of Brownhills Community Association Place of Welcome (Walsall)

Last week, I had the pleasure of joining Teresa and Jane at the Place of Welcome in Brownhills Community Association, Chester Road North – by the ‘Tin Man’. The Place of Welcome is open from 12 noon until 1pm every Wednesday and you will receive a warm welcome, cup of tea or coffee, or a cold drink, a choice of cake or you can try one of each! Teresa and Jane’s sense of fun and enthusiasm for their community is infectious. If you are a local resident in need of company or are shopping in Brownhills on a Wednesday and would like a rest stop, please feel free to drop in for a chat and free light refreshments.

Carrie Blount, Places of Welcome Facilitator, Black Country

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Reopening of Holy Ascension Church, Lower Farm, Bloxwich

Places of Welcome has reopened at Holy Ascension Church, Lower Farm, Bloxwich. As you can see from the photographs, tables are nicely spaced apart with six people to a table. Doors and windows are open for ventilation, but the venue is far from being cold and the welcome even warmer. Sue, Leslie, Margaret and June gave me such a warm greeting and I was quickly seated with a cup of coffee. June told me that people have really missed the social contact that their Place of Welcome provides and that over the last year, some of their community have lost loved ones and meeting again now is giving them a lot of comfort. Leslie said “It is early days, but folk are glad to be back”, and I can understand why, there is friendly conversation and a lot of laughter, with care and concern demonstrated for each person who walks through the doors. I must not forget to mention Alfie, Leslie’s lovely dog, who loves all the fuss and attention from this wonderful community!

Holy Ascension’s Place of Welcome is open between 9:30am and 12 noon, every Wednesday – go along and experience it for yourself, you will not be disappointed.

Carrie Blount, Places of Welcome Facilitator – Black Country

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Welcome to South Staffs Water hub!

Read the full story here

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Reopenings of the Place of Welcome at St Andrews Church

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Places of Welcome in Stoke on Trent & Staffordshire

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Word Cloud Places of Welcome Tea Cup

A neighbourly welcome for everyone at Curborough Community Centre

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14th-18th June 2021

As part of #LonelinessAwarenessWeek, our friends from

Trent and Dove Housing have made this fab film about their Places of Welcome UK 🎥

Could you set up a Place of Welcome?

Places of Welcome are a growing network of local community groups providing their neighbourhoods with places where all people feel safe to connect, belong and contribute

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