'You don't have to be part of the church to come along'

Places of Welcome are safe spaces for everyone to belong, connect and contribute. Guests and volunteers alike say that attending becomes a highlight of their week.

Fifty new Places of Welcome have this summer joined our network of more than 600 venues hosting weekly spaces where everyone is free to connect, belong and contribute.

Ruth, who helps out at a Place of Welcome outside Chester, says: “For many like myself who live alone, this is a really important time in the week to socialise and catch up with others.

“You don’t have to be part of the church to come along to the Place of Welcome at all and I think as people recognise that, more are comfortable to come in, and it has become a real mix of people from across the village who come regularly.”

JP RM JM St Philips Kelsall Pof W Small short 1

The café, run in partnership with Transforming Lives Together Chester, has a strong team of volunteers and an established baking rota.

Guests find out about the Place of Welcome, which takes place at St Philip’s, Kelsall, via the church and through word of mouth. It has featured in the village newsletter and details have been displayed on posters in local shops.

Jane Pearson, the project lead, says: “We’ve even had people who have moved out of the village now to places like Chester, who have come back to visit specifically for the Place of Welcome, which really shows how much this place has meant to them.’

Friendships have formed as guests have got to know each other. Jane explains: “We recently had a bereavement and sadly lost one of our members, who was a lovely lady. I really saw how the guests here supported each other during that time.”

She adds: “If we don’t see a guest for a few weeks we may gently check in on them. It’s a space where we can look out for each other.”