250 Places of Welcome and Counting…

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This blog post is written by our Communications Intern, Carmen Regifo Renedo

The extraordinary network Places of Welcome is supported by Near Neighbours and is run by local community groups. It focuses on offering a friendly face to anyone who would like, at the same time every week. Spreading across the country, Places of Welcome venues offer neighbourhoods and communities a space for people to meet, have a chat and a tea or coffee at no charge.

The aim is for all communities to have safe places for people to connect, belong and contribute. This year has been ground-breaking as we are celebrating the 250th Place of Welcome opening!

Our 250th venue is St John's Community Church in Chase Terrace, Staffordshire. This is an Anglican church that has been running a drop-in on Mondays for many years. They joined the Places of Welcome network because of the values which hold it together and the element of peer support between venues.

The network had originally started in Birmingham to help people get to know their community better. Breaking the silence amongst neighbours, helping making friendships and alliances, it truly is a place for people to bond and connect with each other. Creating a sense of belonging through conversations about each person’s experiences and stories, people get to share their skills, bring in their talents and most importantly; have a good time.

There are now venues all across England. Each place is unique, as it holds and treasures the values of the local community, but they all share the value of being welcoming. As one participant put it: "I feel like a celebrity when I come in the Place of Welcome, everyone is so pleased to see me!”