A new Places of Welcome Facilitator for Walsall and the Black Country has been appointed to help community groups open their doors to local people.
The Places of Welcome initiative is spreading across the West Midlands where every week people are free to belong, connect and contribute in over 360 national venues; venues in Walsall and elsewhere the Black Country already include a variety of churches, community centres, libraries and a mosque. It is a growing network of hospitality 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.
Su Parker has taken on the part-time facilitator role to help spread Places of Welcome further across Walsall as well as Wolverhampton, Dudley and Sandwell. She’ll be helping to support the 40 current venues in the Black Country, as well as setting up new venues. Su has a wealth of experience, including being the Artistic Director of a theatre company and setting up Dementia Friendly Churches across the Black Country.
She said “Places of Welcome is about opening the door for people to meet others in their community and is great at including those who may feel isolated, including the elderly. I’m really looking forward to getting out and meeting and supporting current volunteers as well as helping churches and other faith and community groups to set up Places of Welcome in their local area.”
This Places of Welcome initiative is being jointly funded by Walsall for All and The National Lottery Community Fund. Walsall for All is a local partnership of voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations, faith communities, school and colleges and businesses and the council and wider public sector. They are working together to create strong and integrated communities in Walsall where people from all backgrounds come together to celebrate what they have in common.
The National Lottery Community Fund is the largest funder of community activity in the UK and distributes money raised by National Lottery players to good causes. The grant enables Su to extend her work to support and develop Places of Welcome in Wolverhampton, Dudley and Sandwell.
Ana Tomulescu, Integrated Area Projects and Partnership Lead for Walsall for All said “I am a great believer that people have the power to change a place for the better and make it thrive. This is an exciting opportunity for our communities. An extended and strengthened network of Places of Welcome will bring more people together to learn about each other, share their talents, experiences and contribute to the creation of welcoming and friendly neighbourhoods. Working in partnership will be key to the sustainability of this piece of work.”
Transforming Communities Together Chair, the Rev Dr David Primrose, said: “We’re delighted to have this opportunity to extend this movement of welcome and hospitality. It’s vital to have safe places for people to connect, belong and contribute. We’re delighted that funding from Awards for All, and cooperation with colleagues in Birmingham, ensures that right across the Black Country we can raise awareness of existing Places of Welcome and develop new venues in other faith and community buildings.”
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 including a complete list of all Places of Welcome in the Black Country visit www.placesofwelcome.org.uk
If you would like to contact Su Parker, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org