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Welcome Spaces – winter 2023/24 guidelines for organisations

Added: 10/10/2023

Welcome Spaces

Please note, funding for Welcome Spaces 2023/2024 has now come to an end (as of March 2024). If you haven’t done so already, please subscribe to the Doing Good Leeds newsletter here where we will provide updates about future funding, should this be secured.

If you are looking to attend a Welcome Space, or to signpost individuals to a Welcomes Space, there are venues in various locations which are still operational and can be found by searching ‘Welcome Spaces’ on the Leeds Directory:


Thank you for offering to open your doors to create a Welcome Space for people in your community.  

Your contribution to help support people this winter is very much appreciated. In the third sector in Leeds, we have a wealth of experience and knowledge of working with local communities. We believe that locally trusted organisations are in the best place to deliver support by offering a warm, welcome and safe space for people to come when they want time out of the house for a coffee, a chat, to make new friends or to do an activity. 

In this document, you will find information, draft documents and tips for running a welcome and inclusive Welcome Space.  

Our learning from Welcome Spaces 2022/23 

Last year over 120 third sector and faith-based organisations stepped forward to become part of the network, with the busiest months seeing over 12,000 recorded visits to spaces across Leeds.   

Last year we used the term ‘Warm Spaces’. After consultation with organisations who hosted services about their preferred name, this year we have decided to change the title of our winter provision for communities to ‘Welcome Spaces’. 

From feedback, we learnt that, the most successful spaces did not focus directly on cost of living issues but instead offered activities, food, good conversations and local connections. Successful spaces built on this foundation, signposting services and support when visitors wanted it. 

We want to continue to learn as this scheme develops. This year we are deepening our partnership with Leeds Community Anchor Network (LCAN) who will take a central role in awarding grants and helping to coordinate the network at the local level.  

Whilst your feedback showed that the local knowledge and visibility of Welcome Spaces is crucial to them being well used, we also recognise that people and wider support service across Leeds value a single source of information about where Welcome Spaces are and when they are open. For this reason, we ask that wherever possible/by exception Welcome Spaces list their opening hours on Leeds Directory. 

Joining the Network 

Any organisation meeting the minimum eligibility criteria set out in our Charter below, for a safe, welcoming space can register as part of the network and be listed as a Welcome Space on Leeds Directory (see below). 

Funding to support third sector and faith-based Welcome Spaces 

This year Voluntary Action Leeds is working with Leeds Community Anchor Network to distribute funding from West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Council’s Household Support Fund to make grant awards to third sector and faith based Welcome Spaces. 

We are inviting Expressions of Interest from organisations that meet the minimum eligibility criteria and that: 

  • are appropriately constituted small and medium sized not for profit and Faith organisations 
  • have a local footprint 


  • offer a service for a community of interest 

Leeds Community Anchor Network members will make grant decisions, balancing offer in their Locality and considering the: 

  • geographical spread of Welcome Spaces,  
  • spread of opening hours,  
  • activity to foster community connections  
  • groups that Welcome Spaces cater for 
  • we particularly welcome applications from Welcome Spaces who design their service around minoritized communities 

We expect that grant awards will be up to £1000 and that most grant awards will be in the range of £500 to £1000. We do not expect every organisation that expresses an interest to be offered a grant award. 

Grant funding will make a contribution to the running costs of your Welcome Space and could be used for: 

  • running costs, including energy bills 
  • staff costs 
  • volunteer expenses 
  • equipment/resources 
  • food, fuel or essential items  

Should you receive a grant, you will not be required to submit evidence of your expenditure spend, however we may ask for feedback as to how the funding has been utilised, and we would expect you to keep appropriate records in line with your own accounting requirements.  

To help us to continue to learn, it will be a condition of any grant that funded organisations participate in providing light touch monthly feedback.



Our Welcome Space Charter 

Keeping people safe is the most important part of your Welcome Space offer.  

We expect that every organisation will have the following key things in place before they open their doors:   

  • a warm, welcome and safe space to offer your local community  
  • an up-to-date Safeguarding Policy  
  • public Liability Insurance  
  • an up-to-date risk assessment that is appropriate to offering an open access service to members of the public 
  • staff or volunteers that have basic knowledge of services that they could signpost to  

Principles for a Welcome Space 

A Welcome Space is welcome, safe and supportive. Here is what we think that might look like, but if you have any further ideas to share, please get in touch with us at as we intend to update this guidance as we learn together.  

A welcome space…  

  • offers free or pay as your feel basic refreshments e.g. tea and coffee 
  • provides some activities or socialising opportunities for people to engage with 
  • has staff or volunteers that are available to greet and help ensure people feel at home 

A safe space…  

  • has an appropriate risk assessment 
  • has Public Liability Insurance 
  • can offer people some basic immediate support 
  • people serving food have a Level 2 Food Hygiene certificate 

A supportive space…  

  • is ready to listen 
  • can signpost people to support if they need it 
  • seeks to link to other local organisations 

To support your Welcome Space, Voluntary Action Leeds and Forum Central provide practical advice and offers of support for organisations. This support includes:  

  • facilitating local links 
  • support in recruiting volunteers 
  • access to Community Champions (in priority wards, see Community Champions section below) to support people around health messages 
  • links and information about other services, appeals and campaigns, such as Zero Waste Leeds’ Winter Coat appeal that may strengthen your offer 



It is important to remember that a Welcome Space is an inclusive, non-judgmental space where people’s confidentiality and privacy are to be respected.  

Any visitor should have the opportunity to have a good conversation if they want one. Good conversations should meet people ‘where they are at’ and should never feel intrusive or make people feel uncomfortable. 

Your Welcome Space should be offered for free, or on a Pay As You Feel basis to people who use it. It should include basic refreshments (for instance tea and coffee for visitors).  

Other things you could consider providing include free Wi-Fi, charging points for mobile phones, reading materials, board games or other activities.  

You could also ask people joining your Welcome Spaces community what type of activities they would like and, even better, invite them to bring an activity or teach a skill to others. If you already run activities in your space, you could think about how to open up these activities or make them more accessible to people visiting you as a Welcome Space.  

We welcome and celebrate spaces run by and located in Faith settings; the faith sector has contributed greatly to the roll out of Welcome Spaces across Leeds.  

Welcome Spaces should be inclusive, but we recognise where organisations serve specific communities or groups of people, it may mean their provision is not open to the general public, or is only open to specific people – For example existing service users, people with specific protected characteristics or vulnerabilities. We also recognise the some religious spaces without ‘community space’ may only be able to open their Welcome Space to people belonging to their religious community due to religious practices/observations required.     

If this applies to you, please ensure the following;  

  • if your provision is not open to the general public, you must be clear about this on your application form.  We still want to support you, but will discuss with you whether it is appropriate for your offer to be made public on Leeds Directory. 
  • if your provision is open to the general public, but only to people with particular protected characteristics (for example people with learning disabilities or a men’s group) please state this on your funding application and when in completing your Leeds Directory listing.  

There is no minimum opening period for Welcome Spaces. We would ask you to consider the best offer for people in your community taking into account issues such as travel time to reach your Welcome Space. 

 We would ask you to be clear when you will be open – ideally this will be the same each week so people can plan their visit in advance.  



In addition to your existing risk assessment, you should also consider and address additional risks that could occur:  

  • people that you might not know coming to the building 
  • people presenting in crisis or distress 
  • translation or access requirements that you might not have experience with. 
  • Covid- 19 and other winter related illnesses 
  • Risk of burns/scalds from hot drinks/spills – particular consideration required for provisions open to children/young people/families 

It is important to be aware of the risk of Covid-19 over the winter months. Whilst there are currently no restrictions in place. We would advise Welcome Spaces to have face masks and hand gel available.  

If the space allows, you could consider creating a space where people can maintain social distance. Covid-19 levels and the vulnerability of attendees should be taken into consideration when deciding the capacity of the venue.  


If your venue is serving alcohol in the same space and time as the Welcome Space offer, it will not be eligible for this scheme. 


You must satisfy yourself that you have appropriate arrangements for Safeguarding Adults and Children. 

You must have a person who will act as your Safeguarding Lead. 

We would recommend as part of your safeguarding policy you display posters and information on how people can contact the Safeguarding Officer if they have concerns. 

Food Hygiene 

If you are providing food, you must ensure that food handlers have a Food Hygiene Certificate Level 2. 

Sources of Information for keeping visitors safe 

You can access more information about how to help someone in a mental health crisis at Mindwell Leeds.  

Remember, if you have concerns that someone is at immediate risk of harm you should call 999 straight away.  

You can find information about safeguarding adults here, and safeguarding children here. 

Information about how to get help someone who is being exploited or forced to work against their will (modern slavery) can be found here.  

Emergency out of hours information can be found here. 

If you would like support or advice around your risk assessment, safeguarding policy and training, or Food Hygiene Certification then please contact Voluntary Action Leeds on or call 0113 2977920.  



The Cost of Living crisis has had a significant impact on people’s personal finances, housing, mental health and wellbeing and in many other ways.  

Visitors to your Welcome Space might need some support. Although you may not have the specific expertise within your Welcome Space, it’s important that you are able to signpost people to the right support if they need it. Some useful links include:  

Information on Cost of Living support can be found on the public Together Leeds webpage. 

Use the Leeds Money Information Centre to find organisations in the city providing free, impartial and confidential advice services for issues including debt, benefits, housing, energy, food and fuel. Free printed materials (including translations) such as flyers, booklets and posters are also available by contacting  

The Cost of Living – Google Drive brings together resources and materials from organisations across Leeds on key areas such as food, energy, housing, health, money and support for culturally diverse communities. Please note: The google drive is intended for use by organisations only – the link should not be shared with the public. 

Free printed leaflets and posters about health and wellbeing support can also be ordered via the Public Health Resource Centre here.  

The Leeds Food Aid Network website includes online maps showing places to access emergency food or low-cost food and meals. The Worrying about money leaflet for Leeds is also produced by Leeds Food Aid Network and includes contact details for local organisations supporting people around debt, finances, and benefit payments  

Turn2Us Benefit Calculator is a great free resource for people to check they are not missing any benefits they are entitled to.  


Support for Organisations 

It’s important to remember you are not alone in the delivery of your Welcome Space; you will be part of a network of locally trusted organisations  


Look local 

This year Leeds Community Anchor Network (LCAN), will help to coordinate delivery. This will include distributing grant funding, supporting directly, connecting local organisations, coordinating times and days across the ward to ensure a good coverage and advising around policies or volunteer recruitment.  

This will help to further strengthen local connections and provision into the spring and beyond.  Voluntary Action Leeds will also be helping to coordinate the provision, please feel free to get in touch directly with VAL at 

Many of the services VAL provide can be found below, for the latest training (lots of which is free of charge) please visit their website


Places of Welcome

Places of Welcome is a national network of over 600 venues including places of worship, libraries, community centres and village halls which open their doors to their community every week, providing free refreshments and a welcoming environment. Based on a similar ethos as Welcome Spaces, Places of Welcome operate throughout the year. In Leeds the network is supported by Wellsprings Together who are able to visit leaders and volunteers in action, help to draw together various regional and local peer support groups and to encourage leaders to work together and with local partners and to build resilience for the future.  We supply a free Places of Welcome Banner and leaflets and, by joining Places of Welcome (which is free of charge), you increase the visibility of your venue in your community and beyond.


Joining the network is free, simple to do – just visit


Training and Capacity Building for Welcome Spaces  

This year, VAL has a small budget to support organisations in receipt of Welcome Spaces who would benefit from training to support your offer. We expect to be able to offer free training in the following areas that we have identified as likely priorities: 

  • Safeguarding 
  • Food Hygiene 
  • An introduction to positive conversations with people in mental health crisis 
  • Signposting sources of support 

This is not an exhaustive list and we will consider providing any training that you identify as a need, subject to demand across the network and our available resources. 

Wherever possible we will seek to offer courses for all the Welcome Spaces in your locality. 

On occasion if we are delivering training for Welcome Spaces and have spare capacity, we may offer places to organisations that are not in receipt of funding. 

If you have identified a training need in your Welcome Space, please contact 



Volunteers are likely to be at the heart of your Welcome Space offer. Firstly, look at the assets around you – people regularly accessing your Welcome Space might enjoy being able to give back as part of using the space (although this should never be a requirement).  

If you would like some support around recruiting and managing volunteers, you can contact Volunteer Centre Leeds (which is a project of Voluntary Action Leeds) for advice and guidance, by emailing or calling 0113 297 7920.  

Here are some tips and resources to help with supporting volunteers in your Welcome Space:  

  • If you have volunteering opportunities at your Welcome Space, it’s a good idea to write a volunteer role to be clear about what you’re looking for. You could use our template welcome space volunteer role. 
  • If you are in contact with other local Welcome Spaces also looking to recruit volunteers, you could consider advertising the post jointly and sharing the volunteer (the V.C can again help you with this).  
  • You can advertise your volunteer role on our volunteering platform, Be Collective, where people who are looking to volunteer can see them and apply.  
  • If you haven’t used BeCollective before and would like some support with this, you can contact Volunteer Centre Leeds using the details above, or check out our guide to using BeCollective. 

You could also promote opportunities to people who might like to volunteer by displaying posters in your Warm Space for people to see when they visit.   

You can find lots more information about supporting volunteers on our website. 


Community Champions 

If your Warm Space is located in Chapeltown, Gipton and Harehills, Burmantofts and Richmond Hill, Beeston and Holbeck, Little London, Woodhouse or Middleton, our Community Champions would love to hear from you. We have a team of volunteers happy to attend a session to help promote positive health messages and let you know about vaccination sessions near you. Please contact for more details.  


Good News Stories 

Similar to last year, VAL will be publishing a series of blogs focusing on Good News Stories and all the great work you are doing for the project. If you would like your Welcome Space to feature, please do get in touch with  

Welcome Spaces

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