Places of Welcome

Places of Welcome Spotlight: Cropwell Bishop

Cropwell Bishop: Known for Stilton cheese and Coffee Cake and Chat. Read more to find out from volunteers about their experience hosting a Place of Welcome

Since our last newsletter we held our first Notts Places of Welcome Network Coordinator’s gathering at Basford Road Baptist Church in Nottingham. It was a great opportunity for local co-ordinators to share ideas, ask questions, celebrate successes and also encourage each other. There are Places of Welcome in a number of different contexts across Nottinghamshire from Plumtree a village to the south of the county to a former hairdressers-turned-church in Stapleford to a 19th century gothic church in the Arboretum, Nottingham.

Cropwell Bishop is home of award-winning stilton but is also home to one of the Notts Places of Welcome. Held in St Giles’ Church every Wednesday between 9 and 11am, Coffee Cake and Chat is a hub of activity in the community.

We asked the team of volunteers to share their experience so far…

" Coffee, Cake and Chat started two and a half years ago, originally to provide fellowship for young mums returning from the school run and a place for their toddlers to play. A few do, but we attract far more retired folk who enjoy interacting with the young people and value the opportunity to meet, reminisce and enjoy the free coffee and delicious cake made by our volunteers.

There is always a buzz and often laughter but some come with their worries and challenges and are encouraged, though never pressed, to share them with helpers and fellow coffee drinkers. It is heartwarming that some have become friends and now visit and help each other. All visitors receive a warm welcome and no-one is left to sit alone. We have a core group of regulars with the occasional one-off visit by folk from near or far!

We make an effort to remember peoples' names and have a register for people to sign, which helps! All our guests are aware that the helpers are church members but we do not evangelise as such. Even so, a few have started coming to some services.

Our weekly sessions from 9am to 11am overlap with a session for bell ringing beginners who also enjoy the refreshments and chat. The bell ringing floor is clearly visible to our guests and some, including children have had a go, with expert close supervision, at chiming a bell.

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Our recent new facilities provide us with an equal access W.C. and tea point, which enable Coffee Cake and Chat to take place but the 14th Century “Poppy head” pews, though of great historic value, are not the most comfortable for seating or suitable as a children's play area! However, with the use of cushions on pews and chairs, and rugs spread in the aisles, everyone seems to be happy!

We are currently applying for a faculty to re-site the pews and provide a new floor which will give us even greater flexibility and further improve what we can offer.

Originally Coffee, Cake and Chat was intended as a term time provision as we do not yet have the facilities to provide activities for school age children. However, due to popular demand we do keep going through most of the school holidays with a few school age children joining us.

The helpers are confident that we are meeting a need in the community and are encouraged to keep this group thriving. We all enjoy coming! "

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Places of Welcome is a growing network of local community groups providing their neighbourhoods with places where all people feel safe to belong, connect and contribute. If you would like to find out more about how you can get involved email Hannah.

Want to find your closest Place of Welcome? Head to the website here.