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Welcoming Spaces open their doors to local residents

Main image: A Welcoming Space at Redcatch Community Garden. Picture Claudia Collins.

Venues across Filwood and Knowle have opened their doors to help residents through the Cost of Living Crisis and give them a warm place to go during the winter months.

With rising energy prices, many families are being forced to choose between heating and putting food on the table – and the Welcoming Spaces scheme is being introduced across the city to help.

A Welcoming Space is one already established in the community – such as a place of worship, community or children’s centre – where people can keep warm and socialise but also have access to support if needed.

Each space is likely to provide hot drinks, mobile phone charging points, Wi-Fi and activities – with many also serving a community meal or toast.

Support is also being provided by city-wide organisations including advice about money and finance as well as emotional wellbeing and mental health support, employment and skills.

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees says: “…Bristol is a city that will continue to step up and support each other in difficult times. Welcoming Spaces have been made possible because of our incredible community, voluntary, and faith organisations, as well as city council services responding to this crisis…” 

One of the local spaces is at Inns Court Community and Family Centre. Jo Mereweather, Boing! Cafe Coordinator says: “We had one lady in last week who said it’s not just about the free tea and toast, it’s about the company.” 

And mum Clare Baber who uses the space says: “When I’ve had the twins here, I’ve used Boing! as a hub to not feel overwhelmed with the two of them running around.”

Mum Clare Baber at Boing! Cafe which provides a Welcoming Space. Picture Frances Coates.

Another venue opening its doors is Redcatch Community Garden (RCG) which provides a community meal and activities on Tuesday lunch times and has just started an after-school meal for families on Mondays up to 5pm.

And staff have found it as equally rewarding as the people who attend – knowing that it brings members of the community in and provides some support.

RCG Founder Kate Swain says: “We have loved meeting new people in the garden and surprising them with delicious food cooked with fresh produce from the garden. 

“Michelle, Cafe Supervisor, has been making a hearty pudding as an extra treat and volunteer, Jenny, has been leading a craft activity – the favourite so far has been flower arranging.

“We have between 15 and 22 attendees come each week and the number is growing.” 

A group of residents enjoying lunch at Redcatch Community Garden. Picture Claudia Collins.

One user said: “Everyone was so friendly and welcoming and the food was amazing. It was the highlight of my week.”

Visit www.knowlewest.co.uk/welcomingspaces/ for a full list of venues in the schema or for further help visit the Cost of Living Support section on the council website.