Places of Welcome

Blog - Reopening our Places of Welcome network

Following the easing of lockdown restrictions on Monday 17th May, it has been great to visit our Places of Welcome opening / reopening around the Black Country, Staffordshire and northern Shropshire!

Follow all the reopening news on this blog!

Published 8th June 2021

Updated 11th September 2021

Open Places of Welcome and TCT
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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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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

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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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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!

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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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