We asked one centre manager to explain why they like being part of the Places of Welcome network..

I have been very pleased with the impact of “Places of welcome” it has helped us in three specific ways;

Firstly, people ask what a “Place of Welcome” is. This allows myself or our volunteers to immediately set expectations with people who are unfamiliar with us, or haven’t been before. We can say to them “A place of welcome is a place where anyone can come and feel welcome. It is a non judgmental place that is a compassionate environment where we listen to each others stories and learn from them.”

I have added the emphasis because these are the values we are able to immediately convey to people who ask, and we can do it in a public space so other people over hear. It begins to set or build our culture and having the label has been useful for that. When people ask “what is a place of welcome?”, which they do often, we can be both specific and concise and we can be very clear about the environment people are entering in to and expected to be part of.

Secondly, we have been able to promote ourselves as a “Place of Welcome” part of a “nationwide network” of “welcoming communities” to our supporters, this includes local councillors, the mayor and the MP.

A “Place of Welcome” is a neat umbrella that everyone can get behind and be on board with, this widens the scope of our potential supporters and it also increases our appeal because very few people are sceptical about the advantages of being accepted in a community of people who care about you and support you in your gifts and talents.

Finally, it has allowed us to promote groups that we run and find people to run them by using the idea of “a Place of Welcome”. I believe the ability to differentiate what we do has allowed aspects of our work to become more attractive to the wider public and particularly the kind of people who host our groups.

As an example, the lady who was at the forefront of establishing our craft group came on board because she believed that other people had a passion for crafting but were doing it alone, and may be lonely. She has used our “Place of Welcome” to host a group where people who may otherwise be isolated are able to come and share their gifts and teach one another. In my opinion, it has been very successful.

In short, I believe that Places of Welcome has been very beneficial to us.