Places of Welcome

by David Primrose in Stafford, Staffordshire, England

Matched donations to establish Places of Welcome across Staffordshire and Stoke where, every week, local people are free to meet together.

by David Primrose in Stafford, Staffordshire, England

We did it
On 26th July 2017 we successfully raised £4,473 with 35 supporters in 42 days

Matched donations

An anonymous supporter has pledged to match all new donations till we reach our target.

Introduction

Places of Welcome are set to spread across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.  The Places of Welcome movement is a growing network of hospitality run entirely by volunteers from local community groups who want to make sure that everyone in their area has a place to go for a friendly face, a cup of tea and a conversation if and when they need it. The primary aim of the Places of Welcome network is that every neighbourhood has places where all people feel safe to belong, connect with others and contribute to their local community. We want to extend this network across Staffordshire and Stoke.

 

Principles

Places of Welcome bring people together, reduce social exclusion, overcome loneliness, and build a sense of community. They are local venues where, on a regular basis, people can find company, and be valued for who they are. The guiding principles of all Places of Welcome are expressed in 5 Ps. These are:

  • Place:  An accessible and hospitable building, open at the same time every week.
  • People:  Open to everyone regardless of their circumstances or situation, and staffed by volunteers.
  • Presence:  A place where people actively listen to one another.
  • Provision:  Offering free refreshments (at least a cup of tea and a biscuit) and basic local information.
  • Participation: Recognises that every person coming to a Place of Welcome will bring talents, experiences and skills that they might be willing to share locally.

These principles build up an ethos where everyone is encouraged to participate. Places of Welcome develop according to the skills and resources that volunteers and visitors are able to contribute. Some engage in craft activities, share practical skills, cook together, arrange for trips out, and run computer classes. Some have close links with job clubs and foodbanks running from the same venues. Such real examples of shared activities have a direct impact on reducing social exclusion and ensure that every person is valued. At the same time, Places of Welcome provide natural opportunities for sign-posting on to local services supporting carers, those with health problems, and people in debt. This information can be shared in a sensitive manner, with both leaflets and flyers available, as well as responding to issues that arise in the course of conversations.

 

Background

Places of Welcome developed out of the Birmingham Social Inclusion process ‘Giving Hope Changing Lives’, as a response to the question - Is Birmingham a welcoming city? It quickly spread to the Black Country, more recently into the south of Staffordshire and in several other locations around England. There are now over 150 Places of Welcome, with 4 in Lichfield District, 3 in Tamworth and 2 in South Staffordshire. In September 2016, Sue Ball was recruited as part-time coordinator, promoting Places of Welcome in Birmingham and the Black Country. We want to employ a part-time coordinator for Staffordshire and Stoke.

From the beginning, Places of Welcome have been sponsored by joint ventures between the Church Urban Fund and two local dioceses, of which we, Transforming Communities Together, are one. The Church Urban Fund is now seeking to promote Places of Welcome nationally, whilst Transforming Communities Together is seeking to extend Places of Welcome across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

Transforming Communities Together is a registered charity, working with communities through local churches across the Diocese of Lichfield, addressing concerns such as debt, dementia, and social integration. The Diocese of Lichfield includes Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. Many, though not all, Places of Welcome are based at churches which, in several neighbourhoods, can provide an initial point of engagement with local communities.

Places of Welcome are run entirely by volunteers, using the community resources which churches and other local groups can freely provide. Our coordinator will promote the network across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, encouraging new Places of Welcome to open, and existing projects to join the network and benefit from the additional publicity.

 

Funding

The primary expenditure is the coordinator’s salary with on-costs (£15,590), with travel and other expenses (£1,500), funding costs (£1,225), and  recruitment and management (£1,540). The project has already received a grant of £3,500 from the Common Good fund, £3,000 from S3 Partnership (SCVYS, Support Staffordshire, & South Staffordshire CVA) and £1,540 in kind from Transforming Communities Together, leaving a Crowdfunding target of £11,950.

Rewards

All those supporting Places of Welcome will receive the reward for themselves and their family and friends at every Place of Welcome, every week, and the joy of knowing that this hospitality is being extended to people all over Staffordshire. Amongst the rewards available the cathedral and six historic churches are offering guided tours to supporters. Wedgwood are producing a souvenir mug and a local artist has producing a limited edition print, which is shown below. 

Evaluation

A recent independent evaluation concluded “that Places of Welcome are providing safe spaces in local communities in which people from a variety of backgrounds – including those who are otherwise socially isolated – are building friendships and finding ways of participating or contributing, both within and beyond the groups themselves. … there is strong evidence to suggest that the Network is providing opportunities for people to meet and get to know others from their local neighbourhood they may not otherwise have met. … for many [participants], the Place of Welcome was helping them to feel less isolated and more connected to others in their community. There was evidence of participants becoming more actively engaged, either in helping at the Place of Welcome itself, or in other activities in the local community: for some, this certainly marked a growth in confidence too. Importantly, Places of Welcome has generated – or tapped into – considerable energy and enthusiasm amongst those who have become involved. Coordinators and others involved in making Places of Welcome happen showed a strong level of commitment to the Places of Welcome ethos and to the goal of providing spaces in which all people can feel safe to belong, connect and contribute.”

 

Supporters

As well as contributing financially, supporters can encourage  people to visit or volunteer at existing Places of Welcome, alert us to potential new venues, or become involved in starting a new Place of Welcome.

Rewards

This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£1 or more

£1 Reward

A free cup of tea/coffee and a warm welcome awaits every supporter and their family & friends at every Place of Welcome every week. All supporters will be informed every time a new Place of Welcome opens in Staffordshire over the next 12 months.

£5 or more

5 of 4 claimed

£5 Reward

Colourful Goodness of God tea-towels are available for the first 4 supporters donating £5.

£10 or more

2 of 50 claimed

£10 Reward

Wedgwood are producing a special Places of Welcome mug featuring our distinctive logo. Donate £10 and sponsor a mug for one of Staffordshire’s Places of Welcome, beginning with the existing nine, and then extending to those that will be opening.

£15 or more

3 of 100 claimed

£15 Reward

Those donating £15 will receive a Places of Welcome souvenir mug specially produced by Wedgwood.

£60 or more

0 of 50 claimed

£60 Reward

Those donating £60 will receive a set of six Places of Welcome souvenir mugs specially produced by Wedgwood.

£100 or more

£100 Reward

For supporters donating £100, historic churches across Staffordshire are offering guided tours on specific Saturday mornings during the month of August. Choose from Lichfield Cathedral Special, Tamworth/St Editha, Stafford/St Mary, Leek/St Edward, Alrewas/All Saints, Kinver/St Peter and Cheddleton/St Edward. This offer includes a guest. Details will be arranged by email.

£200 or more

0 of 50 claimed

£200 Reward

Places of Welcome have commissioned a local artist to produce a limited edition print based upon its logo. Every supporter donating £200 or more will receive a mounted copy (approx 40cm x 30cm).


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