Bristol’s Welcoming Spaces: St Werburghs Community Centre

Shane Perry, smiling with plants and decorations in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Shane Perry, Centre Assistant at St Werburghs Community Centre.

St Werburghs Community Centre has been a proud member of the Welcoming Spaces scheme since it launched in Autumn 2022. Over the last six months or so, we have been able to offer open-access computers, charging points, and free Wi-Fi seven days a week, in a warm and friendly environment. There has been a clear increase in the amount of people who come to the centre on cold days and during the evenings. Older users in particular will spend a few hours on one of the public computers or bring their own laptops to use while sat in one of our comfy chairs in our lovely café space. 

I have had conversations with some of our centre users and they say that they really rely on spaces like ours to save money on their heating costs. It would seem a lot of people would likely spend the night in cold homes if it were not for spaces like ours and one person said that they regularly made a long walk to and from the centre to keep warm for a few hours and use the computers on site. We often find that people who come to use the centre will then go on to engage with some of the community courses we have to offer, such as gardening and cooking, art and computer literacy to name but a few. 

A picture of the café at St Werburghs Community Centre.

Moving forward, we will be recruiting for community-focused volunteers to help our visitors feel even more welcome at the centre and we hope that this will be a valuable opportunity for others to be part of our vibrant community centre. The scheme, while benefiting the community, will also give the welcoming volunteers experience and connection with like-minded individuals.

A picture of children drawing, as one of the community activities run by St Werburghs Community Centre.

The national cost of living crisis has had a severe impact on many people’s lives in some way and those that would not have considered themselves in need of support must now consider what help is out there regarding their own wellbeing. We have been able to signpost many people to outside organisations who are able to offer further support and guidance on various issues which can range from financial matters to mental health. People can feel isolated when lower income prevents them from participating and so centres like ours, acting as Welcoming Spaces for interaction, have never been more essential. 

It is such a great feeling to be part of a team that works so hard to offer people help and support in these trying times and it gives us all a bit of hope that we can move forward to better days ahead. 

If you would like to find out more give us a call on 0117 955 1351, or just pop in.

For a full list of the city’s Welcoming Spaces and cost of living support visit the Bristol City Council website.