As part of my job I am working towards setting up a number of places of welcome across Bradford. Places of Welcome is a specific idea pioneered out of a city wide consultation in Birmingham about what makes a city welcoming. The Diocese of Birmingham then set up the Places of Welcome network.
A Place of Welcome has a sign outside a building saying come on in. Places of welcome is not a new idea but what I like about this version of it is that it’s a very clear and simple proposition based on five principles; It has a very clear set of values and an ethos to which supporters can readily subscribe. Read about Places of Welcome here.
Of course there are many other places and projects that would describe themselves in similar terms. Today I visited the Welcome Places Project in Keighley which is doing some excellent work. They have a number of creative schemes for helping with mental health, confidence, practical skills and more. Read about the Keighley group here.
The core of Places of Welcome specifically is that they are open to anyone and are free to use. Guests are welcomed whatever their status, background or circumstances and given hospitality. Everyone is valued equally and encouraged to participate. As well as free hospitality guests can find a fund of local knowledge and other places of support depending on their needs. The Places of Welcome are facilitated by volunteers and when in a Place of Welcome it may be impossible to distinguish between the organisers and the guests.
Working through Wellsprings Together Bradford we hope to set up small clusters of Places of Welcome which can work together and support each other across boundaries – parishes, neighbourhoods, faiths.
I’m really excited by the idea of forming this network in Bradford and I can see that there is a wider conversation to be had about what welcome means for giver and receiver in a city like ours. It has significance for the city’s status as a city of sanctuary and a whole range of community organisations and faith groups wishing to engage with a diverse range of people and cultures living side by side.
If you would like to talk to me about this or be on our Places of Welcome mailing list let me know. firstname.lastname@example.org or 07889 177 654