Guest blog by Su Parker, Places of Welcome Facilitator at Transforming Communities Together.
Each Place of Welcome offers a gift. It’s the gift of ‘Strangers are just good friends that you haven’t met yet’. Each time someone opens the door to a Place of Welcome, there is the opportunity of new friendships. As the Places of Welcome Facilitator, I spend my time telling everyone I know that these friendships are on offer 19 times every week across Walsall, to anyone, whatever reason they open the door.
Yet, the Place of Welcome venue at Linking Lives Aldridge decided that they wanted to offer a really special gift over Christmas 2019. As the project is based at Aldridge Methodist Church, they are used to being open for the morning service on Christmas day, yet they took it one step further by offering a meal on Christmas Day. The Linking Lives project is all about combating loneliness and isolation, so why not offer a meal to those who otherwise would be alone on Christmas Day a meal.
This gift was given generously. People had been generous in buying, cooking and preparing the food. Generosity in provision of the building. One boy gave everyone one a present, let alone that each person generously shared their day with others. If that wasn’t enough, there was more generosity, in that money was raised for money for Action for Children as people wanted to give something for their meals.
Strangers very quickly became friends on that day. I know because I was there, one of the 6 people who otherwise could have been alone. I hope that just because Christmas is over we don’t stop giving gifts., especially the gift of friendship, so that next Christmas friends can eat together again, without a thought of being a stranger.