If you were wondering about registering as a Warm Welcome space, the data from last year's campaign shows how much of an impact something as simple as a heated space, simple refreshments and a warm welcome can make.
Last year, St Chad’s Church in Leicester started a coffee pop-in as a response to the Warm Welcome initiative, recognising that there were very few places for local people to go and meet up in the area.
They leafleted as much of the parish as they could and waited. From the first morning, seven people came - and they have come along ever since. In fact, numbers have increased, with between 12 and 15 people now regularly popping in every Thursday morning.
They began by offering free tea/coffee, cake, biscuits and toast, and simply encouraged this group - most of whom hadn’t gone to church since their younger days - to keep coming and to have fun sharing stories, jokes and putting the world to rights!
Over time they have started bringing cakes and biscuits to share with each other, they even had a stick of rock each from someone’s trip to Skegness, and they have grown into a group that are really beginning to support one another.
Fr Martin Court says the church family has continued to put information out so people know what’s going on in the church community and last month the group knew St Chad’s would be celebrating Harvest Thanksgiving.
“This jogged memories of ‘ploughing fields and scattering’ and the outcome was that they had their own Harvest Thanksgiving service after the pop-in, with one lady actually asking to do the reading,” says Fr Martin.
The occasion was rounded off with a splendid buffet lunch which left no-one wanting more.
Fr Martin adds: “We have many times talked and prayed as a church about the difficulty of moving people who come for social events on to exploring matters of faith, and this small Harvest service has really been one of the highlights of our year. We plan to do something similar at Christmas and see where this leads us.”