Rugeley and Brereton residents will receive a warm welcome, free refreshments and friendly conversation at Places of Welcome thanks to a funding boost provided by local County Councillors.
An initiative that offers a warm welcome to local communities is set to grow in Rugeley and Brereton, thanks to a £1,500 grant.
Four local organisations have recently joined the national Places of Welcome network which is made up of small community groups providing an unconditional welcome and hospitality to local people for at least a few hours each week. Rugeley Community Centre, run by Rugeley Community Church, is the most recent addition to the Places of Welcome network, joining others including Rugeley and Brereton Libraries and St Augustine’s Church.
The Places of Welcome movement is spreading across Staffordshire and other parts of the country with over 400 venues taking part, including eight across Cannock Chase District. Places of Welcome are run by local 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.
Staffordshire County Councillors Mike Sutherland, Alan Dudson and Johnny McMahon have awarded a £1,500 grant to strengthen and expand the network locally over the next few months. The money will be used to set up new Places of Welcome in the area and for promotional materials so that Places of Welcome can be easily spotted within local neighbourhoods.
Talking about the funding, Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities said: “It’s good news that our local community funding is able to support this project which is already available in a number of Staffordshire libraries.
“Our libraries continue to be safe and inviting places for everybody and by becoming Places of Welcome we want to build our role as a real asset within the community. The whole idea of getting a friendly welcome and the chance to enjoy a cuppa while meeting with others is one that is making a positive difference to people’s lives.”
Staffordshire Places of Welcome Facilitator Helen Titterton said: “Places of Welcome is all about creating connections; it’s a great way to bring people together who may otherwise be isolated or disconnected in some way. This initiative is creating spaces for people to engage with others in their communities, to have company, conversation, to feel valued and heard and to enjoy a cup of tea together. It’s great to be a part in this flourishing movement and its lovely to see others share this vision”.
Chris Fielding, from Rugeley Community Church, said: “As an organisation we know that disconnection not only happens for those new to an area but also to people who have been in the community for years. The shame, isolation and silence that can come from trauma, fear or illness creates distance in people. The antidote to this is compassion, connection and courage and Places of Welcome have a tried and tested method of enabling this. We are proud to be a small part of that.”
Places of Welcome are sponsored and supported by Transforming Communities Together, a joint venture between the Church Urban Fund and the Diocese of Lichfield.
Transforming Communities Together Chair, the Rev Dr David Primrose, said: “We’re delighted to have Places of Welcome at a growing number of places across the Diocese and want to continue this growth across Cannock Chase. We are particularly grateful to the local County Councillors who made a contribution to support Places of Welcome using their Local Members’ Fund in 2019. It’s fantastic to have libraries and community centres, as well as churches involved, as we work towards our vision of every neighbourhood having a Place of Welcome.”
Places of Welcome is a grassroots movement that began in Birmingham. It has five values ensure that each venue is open at the same time and place for at least a few hours every week and is welcoming to anyone wanting to attend:
- : An accessible and hospitable building, open at the same time every week.
- : Open to everyone regardless of their circumstances or situation, and staffed by volunteers.
- : A place where people actively listen to one another.
- : Offering free refreshments and basic local information.
- : Recognises that every person coming to a Place of Welcome will bring talents, experiences and skills that they might be willing to share locally.
There are no charges for joining Places of Welcome, and anyone can start one in their community. Places of Welcome can be in any location including churches, mosques, temples, community centres or housing associations.
Find out more here.