With community groups all over the country setting up “Warm Spaces”, Leeds Older People’s Forum is sharing its resources to help others around the country.
Writes their Good Practice Mentor, Jessica Duffy: “Now so many people have opened up Warm Spaces here in Leeds yet, so I thought it might be a good time to share the things we know about creating a Warm Welcome in those spaces.
People might be feeling very vulnerable just now, for all sorts of reasons, and walking into a room full of strangers is stressful at the best of times. Time to Shine has some tips to share to make people feel welcome, and there are also conversation starters you can use to engage people in comfortable chit-chat which will help them feel comfortable with you.
Making someone feel welcome will help them to visit you again, and a non-threatening, unintrusive chat might help someone get to know you well enough to make a difficult ask.
During the Time to Shine programme we came to recognise how important a warm welcome to a group could be; without it people would come to a session and decide it wasn’t for them. Support workers could find it very difficult to enable someone to pluck up the courage to try again.
Our Warm Welcome checklists pack offers both small and large groups some of the tools that might help them to ensure they know what would provide a Warm Welcome, and reminders and prompts for staff and volunteers undertaking the work. It’s all printable, and you only need to use the things that will help you – there’s everything from arrows to help people find the room or the toilets, to checklists for your greeters. You won’t need everything for drop-in groups – membership lists, for instance – but you might find a sketched plan of the room handy if you have different people helping you set up or tidy away each week.
Remember, Doing Good Leeds has some excellent help and advice about setting up a Warm Space and what you might provide, and you can use the council’s Together Leeds website and its links to other information which will help people with the cost of living crisis.
There is also Mindwell , for people struggling with anxiety or other conditions, who might find some pointers helpful in these challenging times.
Good luck everyone with those Warm Welcomes.