Places of welcome: in action

Places of Welcome was an idea that developed during Birmingham’s Social Inclusion Inquiry ‘Giving Hope Changing Lives’ in 2012.

Exploring the questions “What happens to someone newly arrived to the city?” and “Is Birmingham a welcoming city?”, the response was that Birmingham, like many places, can be welcoming but if someone is new to the area and is not well resourced, not well connected, and if English isn’t their first language then often it isn’t welcoming at all, and can be a very difficult place to navigate. Often people can live in their neighbourhood for a long time but feel isolated, perhaps due to changed circumstances, bereavement, redundancy or even a new baby.

Barrow Cadbury Trust supported Thrive Together Birmingham to start Places of Welcome and it has grown steadily since then.

The Places of Welcome network has now grown beyond Birmingham, into the Black Country, the West Midlands and across the country. There are more than 600 groups who have joined the network, with many more to come.

'Tuesday is my cafe day, so I know I shan't be on my own'

Hear Audrey share why she enjoys coming along to a Place of Welcome

'It gives me a good incentive to come out and meet people'

Richard explains why he started coming to a Place of Welcome

'I was having a difficult time ... I came here and I felt such a welcome'

Coming to a Place of Welcome has helped Pauline when she needed it

'They greet each other like friends'

Denise tells why she started running a Place of Welcome and the difference it is making made to those who come along

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

Details have been shared by word of mouth, in the village newsletter and in local shops, as well as via the church

'A joy to be involved and feel the buzz'

'The fact that so many people come in and appreciate it has been very affirming'

Open whatever the weather

"Lots of those people who were struggling in the winter are still struggling in the summer"

The need for people to feel valued is just as important as offering them hot soup.

It brings together a mix of people who wouldn’t necessarily meet otherwise

It helps break down any longstanding tensions and barriers

"It’s a place where everyone is welcome...Everyone is listened to and valued.”

‘The friendships have been key’

“People are open, welcoming and very non-judgmental."

They’re getting the chance to actually give back

Those who volunteer get a lot of out of it as well...

"A great initiative and us linking up with it seemed like a way of us helping signpost that we're open and welcoming"

“For us, Stoke Social is a fantastic way to reach out to our community and build a sense of belonging with Stoke City."

For all ages and stages

Something for everyone in the community, from an essential foodbank to baby groups and hobby socials, a book shop, and specialist sessions for people suffering from dementia

Tea, biscuits and wellbeing

"They value that they are treated with respect and listened to"

A homely place to get connected

A great place for sharing local information, especially for guests who lack internet access at home