‘The friendships have been key’

Whether it’s facing the cost-of-living crisis or caring for a relative with a long-term condition, some challenges are harder when you are also experiencing loneliness.

Mike, from Chester, is retired and cares for his mum, who has dementia.

He has begun attending a Place of Welcome at Chester Cathedral. Places of Welcome are spaces where everyone is free to belong, connect and contribute.

Mike says: “The difference from before being a part of this Place of Welcome and now is community."

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He adds: “We’ve now made friends with other people who come here, who are in a similar position to ourselves.

“People are open, welcoming and very non-judgmental. All the volunteers have made us feel so welcome and we feel like part of a support network here.

“It's the friendships that have been key for us.“

There are around 600 Places of Welcome across England and Wales and they run in churches and other community buildings.

Maggie, who volunteers at Chester Cathedral’s Place of Welcome, explains how important the meetings are for the volunteers as well as the guests who attend.

Maggie is a volunteer at the Place of Welcome at Chester Cathedral where Mike attends with his mum For Maggie volunteering has given her a routine and purpose since retirement She told us how