The Salvation Army in Welling High Street is throwing its doors open today and on other days throughout the summer, to mark International Day of Friendship.
The International Day of Friendship was set up in 2011 by the United Nations to encourage friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals and to inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities.
Throughout the summer, The Salvation Army in Welling is running a special programme of weekday activities open to everyone in the local community regardless of age or ethnicity to share friendship.
The ‘Take your mind off it’ café is open on Mondays from 10am until 2pm and on Wednesday from 2pm until 6pm. Anyone is welcome at these times for a cup of tea, biscuit or a slice of toast and no charge is made. There are also regular week day and weekend activities for children and older people running on different days including a film club and children’s holiday club (for more information, see the Welling Salvation Army Facebook page).
Lieutenant Katy Shubotham, The Salvation Army’s leader in Welling said:
“When I arrived at Welling Salvation Army earlier this year, one of the first things I noticed was that so many people spoke about feeling isolated. One day, I popped into the local Costa inside Tesco just down the road from our church. Whilst I was there a gentleman asked if he could join me at my table. We then spent a wonderful half an hour chatting. As he left he shared with me that our conversation had been the highlight of his month. At Welling Salvation Army, we want to create opportunities just like that for people in our community to come together to have conversations with one another.
“We often talk about love but love without action is just a word. So we decided not just to talk about love but to show love and one way of doing that is by opening our doors and letting our community know that Welling Salvation Army is a safe place where they are welcome.
“We believe that God never intended for us to live alone, He wanted us to live in community with Him and so we wanted to offer the hand of friendship to the community of Welling by opening the doors and just being here to meet with people.”
Jasmine aged 65, visited the café for the first time earlier in July and now intends to come regularly.
“I was on my way to the library but I saw the door to The Salvation Army was open and before I knew it, I was inside with a cup of tea in my hand! I ended up staying for three hours chatting with different people. Friendship is so important. It’s so easy to go about the day without talking to anyone but we are all human and we need to look out for each other. I’m certainly going to keep coming and meeting new friends.”