Volunteers at a church in Oswestry have become the first to open a Place Of Welcome in Shropshire.
Places of Welcome is a network of small community organisations, including churches, who offer an unconditional welcome to local people for at least a few hours each week.
The initiative is spreading across the Midlands and other parts of the country with over 200 venues taking part. 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.
People from St Oswalds Church in Oswestry have opened Shropshires first Place of Welcome in the Parish Centre, next to the church, on Tuesdays from 10:30am to 12.30pm.
Volunteer Elaine Leek said: We have been talking for some time about wanting to show love and generosity to our community, especially those who feel lonely or isolated, but we hadnt been able to decide yet what form that might take.Then, in a chance meeting, someone from another church told us about Places of Welcome and we realised immediately that their concept and principles fitted exactly with what we wanted to do.
We have had a really good response from people volunteering to help with refreshments and to offer a friendly welcome and a listening ear to those who come, added volunteer Lindsay Clarke. We hope that as word spreads about the new Place of Welcome people from the town will come to know it as somewhere they can feel accepted and build new relationships.
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: Were delighted to have Places of Welcome at a growing number of places across Lichfield Diocese, now including Shropshire, and want to continue this growth. Its fantastic to have mosques, libraries and community centres, as well as churches involved, as we work towards our vision of every community having a Place of Welcome.
Places of Welcome is a grassroots movement that began in Birmingham. Its five values ensure that each venue is open at the same time and place for at least a few hours every week and is welcoming to anyone wanting to attend.
For more information click here.