Hope Street: A Warm Place To Grow With Peers

February 2024
Hope Street community walk up Easedale Tarn

In Ormskirk, Lancashire, Hope Street stands as a testament of the transformative power of an inclusive community. Originally a haven for mental health support, it organically grew into a hub giving hope to all. Today, it’s a Warm Welcome Space you can easily access on our live map.

Guest Nikki Jaden Harrison said; "Hope Street is a place where you can share your day with people who have walked in your shoes. It not only offers support but also builds confidence, and with all the different things like camping, art, talks; the list is endless. It lifts your spirits and makes you feel that you are not alone.”

Hope Street was open on Christmas Day to anyone who felt lonely or wanted to connect with their community. A three-course free meal, entertainment and gifts were given to forty guests, giving them a chance to make special memories together. A father and son joined them thanks to a kind offer made by a member of the community, who provided a driver and minibus specially adapted to take an adult wheelchair. 

Personal Beginnings

At the core of Hope Street is its culture, placing strong emphasis on supporting individuals facing challenges by providing solace and companionship through shared experiences with like-minded peers.

CEO Sheila Byrne founded the space in response to a personal journey. In a recent interview she told BBC Lancashire, “I had a breakdown and I was in a really bad place. There was nowhere in Ormskirk to go for me or my husband, so we set out to create our own project, and Hope Street opened. I’ve created this safe place for people to come to when they’re at their most vulnerable, to prevent them from reaching a point of crisis, to aid their recovery, and to sustain their overall wellbeing.” 

The cafe hub offers a range of free activities and services run by volunteers. It has a children and young people’s practitioner, a mental health nurse and a dementia trainer. Activities range from life coaching, singing sessions, art therapy, Tai-Chi, to cancer workshops, menopause cafes, pilates, hypnosis, meditation, baby classes, a bereavement group, a carers of dementia cafe and loneliness support. 

The cafe also serves affordable food, three meals a day for those who can’t afford to purchase, and free hot drinks.

Sheila said; “People expect places like this to be doom and gloom. Not at all, it’s very rare that you’ll find people sitting there sad. You’ll generally walk in here and find people laughing and smiling. That’s because they feel safe, and because of the activities we do.” 

Everyone Is Welcome

Hope Street welcomes people from all backgrounds including people living with disabilities and families. Peer-groups for LGBTQIA+ people, people living with autism, people living with dementia, carers, and cancer patients allow guests to draw hope from meeting others who share their journey.

Paul, a recent guest, told BBC Lancashire; “I had quite a few things, I lost my dad in July, I’ve had loads of worries, I’ve been trying to deal with so many things at once and I just had a breakdown. I came and straight away they made me feel welcome. It gave me hope. I felt like I was completely broken and they told me; if you are broken you can sort it out. I was trying to do it all at once, you’ve got to do it stage by stage, and then eventually I might be able to come here one day and there might be someone in my position, and I’ll be able to pass-on what I was like and advise that they will get there.”

Hope Street was a Warm Welcome Hero in the week of December 11, 2023. You can find out more about them by visiting their Facebook page, and read stories from people who have loved being part of the Hope Street Community: https://hopest.org.uk/testimonials/ 

Hope Street's inspiring journey mirrors our commitment at Warm Welcome. Our broader movement aspires to make warmth and connection accessible to diverse communities across the UK. From engaging underrepresented groups to bridging geographic gaps, we're building and empowering a network of warm spaces grounded in the belief that meaningful human relationships have the power to transform lives. To learn more about Warm Welcome's approach to inclusion, read this blog.

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