Community toolkit: register as a Welcoming Space
6. Activities and promotion
Welcoming Spaces are a great way to involve people in other activities that support their wellbeing and sense of connectedness to their local community.
Planning fun and engaging activities will encourage people into your space. These can be as simple as quiz or games nights, board games, puzzles, film screenings or a 'knit and natter'.
Regular resources where possible is another huge advantage. So, if you can provide things such as IT and Wi-Fi access, homework clubs, device charging, etc., these can make a significant difference to people’s lives. However, you will have to factor in the costs of providing some of these services carefully, given the rise in energy costs. You might plan on having a television in your space, but this also raises the issue of increased noise levels. Busier community spaces will inevitably be noisier and a relaxed approach to this is important.
Serving food and warm drinks is also a good idea, although there may be local licensing requirements if you want to regularly prepare food. Visitors should be allowed to bring in their own flasks. You do not have to manage all of this yourself however, working with partner organisations is a great way to extend the activities and services you offer.
Activities are a simple way to engage people and enable them to make connections with others.
To encourage activity in your Welcoming Space you could provide:
- a jigsaw puzzle where anyone can place a piece or 2
- board games and cards for people to play
- a Scrabble game with a few words started on the board
- a giant crossword or word search on a board or wall for people to help to complete
- colouring sheets and books, for both adults and children
All these will work well for younger or older audiences.
Your organisation may already have volunteer policies in place, but it's important that you properly support and train your volunteers because they could come into contact with higher numbers of vulnerable people.
You should always avoid having staff working alone in your space.
MECC is an approach to behaviour change that uses the millions of day-to-day interactions that organisations and people have with other people to support them in making positive changes to their physical and mental health and wellbeing. Buckinghamshire Council can offer Making Every Contact Count (MECC) training to volunteers.
If you need help finding volunteers for your organisation, you can register with the Buckinghamshire Volunteer Matching Service. The service matches volunteers with roles where they are most needed in the county.
Visit the Community Impact Bucks Website for advice on managing your volunteers, including:
- developing and advertising roles
- developing a volunteering strategy
- writing a volunteering agreement
- supporting your volunteers' mental wellbeing
Staff care and safeguarding
Taking care of staff and volunteers is vital because they may be facing financial hardship themselves.
You could look at creating a peer support or buddy scheme where team members can discuss issues that arise, air concerns and vent frustrations.
Some team members may also be more vulnerable to Covid. The National Joint Council has agreed guidance with employers about how they should be supported.
It's important to ensure your staff and volunteers have the confidence to interact with a wide range of people and to manage problem behaviour. They must be given clear instructions on how to call in extra support if necessary. You should also carry out an assessment of each staff and volunteer role to see if it requires a police check.
In order to highlight potential issues and try to prepare for them in advance, it's useful to carry out a thorough risk assessment. You will also need to double check to make sure that your insurance covers any new activity you take on.
How to promote your space
While you're working hard to create a safe and welcoming space, it's vital to recognise the significant stigma that people may feel when they visit your space.
To help reduce these feeling it's vital to:
- consider the language you use to describe your space (avoid terms such as warm banks, heated rooms, free meals, benefits advice)
- consider the way you present the services you host
You should also focus on the activities you offer in the space, rather than the fact that they will be held in a warm room. For example, you may want to avoid highlighting specific income-related services (such as benefits advice or job support) in your communications and speak about more general ‘local services or advice’ instead.
To help promote your space and make it easy to find, you may want to use our posters:
- Welcoming Spaces A3 poster (PDF, 2 MB)
- Welcoming Spaces A4 poster (PDF, 2 MB)
- Welcoming Spaces A4 poster - editable version (PDF, 2 MB)
There is further information and resources on our cost of living pages and back on track campaign page.
You can also register your space for free on the Bucks Online Directory.
Other useful resources are available on the Warm Spaces website.
Thanks to CILIP, Warm Welcome and other local partners for their contributions to this content.
Further helpful resources are available at: