Team member Hannah sitting in a community space.

Hannah Allen – Welcomer

“One of the things that drew me to the Welcomer role was that it was new. I liked the fact that I’d be able to shape the job, while using the skills I’d learnt previously.

There’s nothing predictable about the role. One day I’ll make a home visit and end up talking about how to access the Citizens Advice Bureau for help and advice. The next I’ll be sitting in on the first meeting of a basket-weaving club that the community has set up.

Almost everything I do starts with a chat. Talking helps people focus on the things they really care about and suggests a way they can make new connections. I recently visited a young man who had been housebound for a long time and we discussed Barnwood’s origins. That sparked a conversation about how much he loved history and he is now keen to join an archaeological dig. My next step is to help him explore the opportunities.

““Great things begin with a coffee and a chat…. happy endings often have small beginnings.”“

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of what I do is making sure I use my time effectively and fairly. Following up possibilities with local digs could take days, but doing that exclusively wouldn’t be fair to the other people I’m in contact with. The challenge is to have a deep impact with every conversation you have.

Building trust and strong relationships is the key. Sometimes I’ll have a conversation and it will take months before it sparks a change and the person makes a connection. That’s fine. People have to feel able to come back when they’re ready, but having a good initial conversation is so important. It’s about connecting on a human level, being respectful and helpful, but recognising I am not there forever. I add the spark that gets things started. The real fire comes from within the person.”