St Martins drop in

Warm Welcome Network January 2020

The past six months have seen exciting developments as we welcomed four new hubs to the Warm Welcome Network (WWN), doubling its size:

St Cuthberts lunch club2 003
  • Welcome Break at St Barnabas Church Linthorpe
  • St Cuthbert’s Marton Lunch Club
  • St Martins Whinneybanks- Drop In
  • Community Ventures Thorntree -Steph’s Tea and Cake

There is a lot of interest around Middlesbrough and we are delighted that there is the realistic prospect of doubling again by early summer (to sixteen groups).

We hope in the near future to welcome TS3 Community Church, Streets Ahead Gresham, The Men’s Shed Marton Road and Methodist Homes. There are ongoing negotiations with a dozen or more other organisations as we try to spread the message of WWN and the role we hope to play in developing places of welcome and support in communities across Middlesbrough.

Groups are, naturally, at different stages of development some are new and finding their feet, some well-established. It has been good to work with diverse communities, with different but coinciding needs, all with a genuine willingness to grow, develop and share their time and experience with others.

It has also been good to be part of Ageing Better Middlesbrough (ABM) whose collaboration, training, guidance and advice has been invaluable in helping me in my role. Similarly, I have received essential training from CUF (Church Urban Fund) and networked with colleagues from around the country, particular thanks go to James and Helen from Lichfield Diocese whose Places of Welcome Network is a model of best practice; visiting and seeing their work first hand was inspiring.

Learning to Listen Well

Kay Davies from Ageing Better Middlesbrough led us in a listening skills day at Community Ventures, Thorntree. Feedback was completely positive; the day was challenging but deeply informative and suggested the need for more intense and focussed sessions with which we may follow up later in the year.

Dementia Friends Training

I am now a Dementia Champion and will be providing dementia friends training to community volunteers at Community Ventures in the near future. We continue to maintain links with Dementia Friendly Churches and Dementia Friendly Middlesbrough.

Going forward, as well as developing new hubs, I hope to record the stories and development of the Warm Welcome Network, journaling and evaluating to help in the processes of development for the future.