Thinking big to reach further

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.

“Our PoW makes an immense difference – it’s a place where everyone is welcome, it helps break down any longstanding tensions and barriers. Everyone is listened to and valued,” says Christine Batchelor, who works in the community café at St Aidan’s, Basford, in Nottingham.

The café offers a broad range of services that reflect a deep understanding of the needs of the people who live locally.

Aaron burden Avqpd L Rj A Bs unsplash

The café shows what Places of Welcome can achieve if you think outside the box. The people who run it acknowledged that not everyone who could benefit from the service will be able to attend, so they created a home delivery meal service for those less able to get out.

The café runs as a Community Interest Company (CIC) three days a week and employs two people part-time to run sessions.

The Place of Welcome is a varied space that really understands its community. It runs children’s sessions in the school holidays, providing parents with a low- or no-cost activity for families and an important place to meet up with friends.

Sessions include film afternoons with subtitles and audio descriptions to be as inclusive as possible, gardening sessions, a café, community recycling of useful items and a range of activities that promote physical and mental wellbeing.

Christine Batchelor, who works in the café at St Aidan’s, says: “As a Place of Welcome, our attendees find a caring safe space where information can be shared in an accessible and accurate way, especially as we get to know people and can then tailor our activities and the relaying of information to suit each individual. This is vitally important where so much of life as it used to be has changed, from booking GP appointments to [finding] local bus services.”