16 November 2017 IN: Parish News
Increasing numbers of churches are addressing the growing problem of social isolation, experienced particularly by elderly people, by setting up imaginative and welcoming projects.
“In planning the church's future we identified a need in the community to address social isolation and wellbeing”, says The Revd Liz Devall of St John, Hurst. “Together with our desire to become a hub for the local community, we set up the Crafty Characters club and began speaking to other local agencies about our idea of becoming a Place of Welcome.”
With a grant from Action Together, St John’s started Wednesday Welcome in February by offering free refreshments, information on local agencies and services, a book and jigsaw exchange, craft table, newspapers, bereavement counselling, chair aerobics, and a place to meet old and new friends and find a warm welcome!
The popularity of Wednesday Welcome has spread by word of mouth. The highlight of the morning has proved to be the chair aerobics, attracting over 20 people to exercise in the church and have fun! Some guests now help out and serve refreshments.
One lady was overheard on the bus talking about Wednesday Welcome saying, “You should come, they are really welcoming you get free tea and toast, a good chat and they don’t push religion on you – it’s just all about the welcome.” Having said that it has provided a space for people to ask questions. “Are we allowed to light a candle?” A group went to the Lady Chapel to light candles and ask the priest to pray for family situations. One guest informed us “We will be coming here every week, we love it! It’s no good us being on our own, we need a place to be together.”