Playscheme

Revd David Moss
St Michael & All Angels, Bedminster, Bristol South


When David arrived in the benefice he asked the four local headteachers if he could be of service. They shared a need for ‘wraparound care’ for their pupils. From responding to this initial need, the church now has rooms attached which are used non-stop by the whole community.

Sixteen years ago, St Michael and All Angels Church was desperate for Sunday school facilities but had no money available to build any. But it needed a way to be child-friendly and to become integrated into what was then a largely under-privileged parish. In offering to help schools in any way he could, David found that an after-school playscheme would help both headteachers’ and parents’ concerns for the ongoing welfare of children outside school.

Clearly, some buildings would be necessary for the church’s development. Money was sourced from the local authority, local charities and trusts, and augmented with 2 years of hard fund-raising. Plans for the buildings matured over this time as the headteachers fed into the church’s vision of service and outreach. Local builders were also used and so the community was more widely engaged. MPA Ltd. was set up so the PCC were not at risk of liability and so the project could be community-based although both led and situated by the church.

Unless the whole project had not already begun, the opportunities and blessings which made its success possible would probably never have arisen. The playscheme cares for 220 families, 5-days a week, employs 7 staff, works in partnership with other council initiatives (e.g. a project for teenage mothers), has a minibus which is used by schools, children’s and young people’s groups and uniformed organisations in the parish, and serves as an extended classroom for the now frequent school visits to the church.

Through meeting the community’s needs, as expressed by schools, the buildings have repositioned the church in the local mindset, moving it from being isolated by poor access and facilities to a central hub of activity. Additionally, the church is now open 7 days a week and its children’s and youth work thrives.