A homely place to get connected

Places of Welcome are safe spaces for everyone to belong, connect and contribute. They can be a lifeline for people struggling with loneliness, ill health, anxiety or depression.

“It’s like a second home here, some people come every week - they’ve got their own set tables … we’d like to do more in the future, like have lunch together,” says Helen, who runs the Place of Welcome hosted by Wealdstone Methodist Church in north-west London. The weekly session is also a great place for sharing local information, especially for guests who lack internet access at home.

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Creating a warm, open space where people want to come because they feel included is at the heart of Places of Welcome.

The Place of Welcome hosted by Wealdstone Methodist Church in north-west London is run as a weekly coffee morning in the church hall and is attended by a mix of regulars and newcomers.

The volunteers are ready to welcome them with a hot drink and warm smile, and know the regulars so well they set up tables with their favourite puzzles and boardgames waiting for them at their preferred spot.

When one of the guests suffered a bereavement, the Place of Welcome provided them with something positive to focus on and a regular date to occupy their time.

People attend the Wealdstone Place of Welcome for a variety of reasons. Some don’t have home internet access and rely on it for community information like bus routes and support groups.

Its volunteers see its purpose as even simpler than that. Their motivation was to create an accessible and inclusive environment where people could chat over food.

Now, the popularity of the drop-ins has provided volunteers with a reason to go further, regularly offering hot soups and a no-questions safe place for people needing a meal.

One guest said: “I can socialise here. I suffer from anxiety and worry sometimes and coming here takes my mind off things.”