Posted on Thursday 13th February 2020
County Councillors Mike Sutherland and Alan Dudson (middle) with volunteers from Rugeley Community Church Place of Welcome
People from Rugeley and Brereton can look forward to a warm welcome, free refreshments and friendly conversation thanks to a funding boost provided by local County Councillors.
The Places of Welcome initiative is now expected to grow, thanks to the £1,500 grant. Four local organisations have recently joined the national Places of Welcome network which is made up of small community groups providing an unconditional welcome and hospitality to local people for at least a few hours each week.
Rugeley Community Centre is the most recent addition to the Places of Welcome network, joining others including Rugeley and Brereton Libraries and St Augustine’s Church.
Staffordshire County Councillors Mike Sutherland, Alan Dudson and Johnny McMahon have awarded a £1,500 grant to strengthen and expand the network locally over the next few months. The money will be used to set up new Places of Welcome in the area and to promote the initiative.
Talking about the funding, Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities said:
“It’s good news that our local community funding is able to support this project which is already available in a number of Staffordshire libraries.
“Our libraries continue to be safe and inviting places for everybody and by becoming Places of Welcome we want to build our role as a real asset within the community. The whole idea of getting a friendly welcome and the chance to enjoy a cuppa while meeting with others is one that is making a positive difference to people’s lives.”
The Places of Welcome movement is spreading across Staffordshire and other parts of the country with over 400 venues taking part, including eight across Cannock Chase District.
Places of Welcome are run by local groups who want to make sure that everyone in their area has a place to go for a friendly face, a cup of tea and a conversation.
Staffordshire Places of Welcome Facilitator Helen Titterton said:
“Places of Welcome is all about creating connections; it’s a great way to bring people together who may otherwise be isolated or disconnected in some way. This initiative is creating spaces for people to engage with others in their communities, to have company, conversation, to feel valued and heard and to enjoy a cup of tea together. It’s great to be a part in this flourishing movement and its lovely to see others share this vision.”
Chris Fielding, from Rugeley Community Centre, said:
“As an organisation we know that disconnection not only happens for those new to an area but also to people who have been in the community for years. The shame, isolation and silence that can come from trauma, fear or illness creates distance in people. The antidote to this is compassion, connection and courage and Places of Welcome have a tried and tested method of enabling this. We are proud to be a small part of that.”
Places of Welcome are sponsored and supported by Transforming Communities Together, a joint venture between the Church Urban Fund and the Diocese of Lichfield.
Transforming Communities Together Chair, the Rev Dr David Primrose, said:
“We’re delighted to have Places of Welcome at a growing number of places across the Diocese and want to continue this growth across Cannock Chase. We are particularly grateful to the local County Councillors who made a contribution to support Places of Welcome using their Local Members’ Fund in 2019. It’s fantastic to have libraries and community centres, as well as churches involved, as we work towards our vision of every neighbourhood having a Place of Welcome.”
People can find out more at: www.placesofwelcome.org.uk