Summer holiday projects
This year we ran two separate holiday club activities. The first was the traditional themed “camps” for children aged 6-11 years of age. The second was for parent/ carer and child accompanied activities at the Playzone at St John’s PZ. Both holiday clubs were offered for four weeks and ran for four days a week.
The “wild about camps” were based on the Paul hall site which offers a rural location for children to encounter the outdoor environment. The developing outdoor area in the meadow overlooking St Michael Mount proved a fitting backdrop to many of our activities. We were very grateful to those who helped prepare this overgrown area into a useful space. But spiders were not removed which proved somewhat of a challenge when camping: tarantulas!
The children engaged in a wide range of activities. We focused on activities that would help with team building and resilience as well as widening the young people’s exposure to new experiences. Good quality food was provided throughout the day and again there was an attempt to broaden young people’s food choices, especially a wide variety of fruit. The was a day when a Syrian family cooked and served food from their culture, and this was appreciated by adults and youngsters. The rise in the cost of food was a great financial challenge.
More children with needs were included in the provision that was offered this year. Although this was appropriate it did result in more behavioural issues and finding ways to accommodate everyone.
“Not only were child x and child y welcomed into the club, I can’t express how much it means that special measures were taken, and put into place to completely ensure that child x could access and be included in everything.
Inclusion is such a hard thing to achieve. So many organisations promise this, but in reality, cannot truly achieve it.
I feel that such thought and care was in place that an outsider looking in would be unable to identify child x as being different to any of the other children there on those days, which is what every parent of a child with less obvious needs wants for their child more than anything!
On a personal level, it has made me feel that I had total control over the summer holidays, and my mental health has truly benefited from this, knowing that the girls were being taken care of and having fun, so that I could care for my other child without feeling guilty.”
This year there was a film week which the children enjoyed and benefitted from. They were able to showcase their work to parents/ carers and were proud of their achievements. Links to Falmouth university media department and Hypatia trust in Penzance were particularly useful.
There were also issues: lack of mini bus drivers, staff Covid, mobile phones, behavioural issues and parents being economical with information that they supplied about their children which made things tense at times. There were also issues about outside agencies not delivering what they had promised. Most children and staff would not have been aware of the issues as most youngsters had a very enjoyable time.
A video of “wild about” has been made and that is offered as information alongside this report.
The club that ran at the Playzone was offered quite late in the day when it became apparent that there was quite a need for vulnerable families in the area. Lack of finances and food makes holiday time a very tense time for such families. Playzone opened its doors for free four days a week and for four weeks during the holiday period. Two play sessions were offered each day and each session provided food activities and a safe place to play. On many days there were over 40 children plus parents’ session parents and children could be seen queueing outside the church at least 15 minutes before the session opened.
Ongoing work of the Rainbow project
Resignation of family worker and appointment of a replacement.
Family worker Indy handed in her resignation at the end of holiday club. She needs to work for more hours.
An amended job description has now been drawn up and the post of a Family worker has now been advertised. To date 12 people have been in contact for details and interviews will take place mid-October.
New Project at Newlyn
The family worker project is beginning to extend its reach and provision.
St Peters Church Newlyn has currently held two role play sessions for children 0-5 years and their families. Both events were extremely well supported. 45 children attended the last session. These sessions are free for families and include free snacks for children. Church community helpers are assisting with the running of these mornings and making contact with these families. The feedback from parents/ carers have been very positive. Three more themed sessions will be offered this year, also offering activities for slightly older children too.
“I enjoyed the role play it was lovely to see so many. I am also concerned about how many we can accommodate in as we don’t what to turn people away.”
“The only way I can describe Role Play is ………Organised Chaos. It worked out better having the toys set up in the body of the Church, more room. It went very well and I think the parents enjoyed it too.”
We have now successfully made more links with Nancealverne school in Penzance for young people aged 3-19 who have moderate to complex learning difficulties.
We will be holding a parent’s / carers coffee morning with the schools pupil parliament at the Playzone to look at the space and for parents and students to give their advice towards the sensory area. This will be a great chance to gain feedback from parents about the lack of provision for their children in the local area too.
“I am thrilled to be making links with Nancealverne school, they are going to be holding a fundraising event at Soft Play on Tuesday 17th October 10-12 so please feel free to come along and help support this event and spread the word.”
There will be students from Nancealverne School next year for their work placement week at Playzone , to help with signing the children in, making refreshments and running activities with the children.
There has also been a request from Penwith college to have a student or two for an extended work placement as part of their college course. This happen before the end of term and a reflection journal has been written by our family worker so that the young people on placement can reflect well on the experiences that they have gained.
Links with other organisations
The family workers have good and Growing Links Youth with other organisations who are supporting families and young people. There is much evidence of such links being very fruitful. During the summer holidays, there were a significant number of referrals at times when families were experiencing issues.
A planning group has now been meeting for some months to explore the possibility of opening St Mary’s PZ at night once a month for NightchurchPZ. It will create a safe space for a range of people to access on a Saturday night between the hours of 8pm and 3pm. A space of hospitality, quiet, a listening ear and refreshments. We are expecting that this will be available for older teenagers and adults.
There are also plans to have a contemporary music communion service at 7pm for people across the area. This communion service will be a joint venue with other churches in the area.
Sensory Space at St John’s PZ
Business manager Kate is working on this project with the Family workers, church community and wider community. At present community engagement and assessing need is taking place. She is also looking at costings, business plan and possible grants. The plan is likely to be exploring a community garden and sensory garden outside the church of St John’s as well as an indoor space. Links with a similar project in north London is also being explored.
“Kate and I have been up and met with the school inclusion officer and post 16 lead and they are very excited to hear about our future sensory safe space and would love for the children to get involved with this project as much as possible.”
Outdoor facilities at Paul Meadow
Buisness Manager Kate is also working with the Cluster on the setting up of a forest school type experience in the middle of the choir garden. This project is well underway and the children began to use and explore the area during the summer holiday period. This project will link into our family workers becoming “forest school” trained. We believe that such a facility will help with the physical and mental health of the children and adults we work alongside.
Who let the dads out
These sessions have not been well supported of late so it is time to consult with the wider community to understand why this is not meeting needs. Once a new family worker is in place this survey will happen through schools and online. A commitment to supporting dads with having quality time with their children is very much part of the Rainbow project ethos.
Birthday card project
Handmade birthday cards have been produced for the children of St, Mary School Penzance. These cards were created by John Wallis, an ex-headteacher in the area before he died. The aim is for each child at the school to receive a birthday card from the local church, as a way of them feeling special, and valued by God
After school Playzone and outdoor play
These sessions will recommence after half term and once the new family worker is in post. Mousehole school are very keen to move to a Wednesday evening. St Mary’s school and Madron will be offered a Thursday and Friday evening. We are needing to find a solution to minibus transport and to offering a nutritious meal.
St Michael and all angels event
St Mary’s church PZ offered the opportunity for children from St Mary’s school to explore themes related to St Michael. There were seven workshops to engage the youngsters at an age appropriate level. All themes helped children to think about their community and how they might be generous to others. Also they thought about overcoming fear and prejudice. Year 6 young people took part in a sponsored pilgrimage of 10 miles in aid of Shelter box. They talked about how the walk had helped them to make deeper relationships with each other. The walk was quite a challenge to many who believed that their legs might never walk again by the time they reached St Mary’s church.
Family worker Molly has now produced a form which can be filled in when offering help, help and signposting to other agencies. There are a fair number of people who need support so it is a way of trying to work better with other organisations.
More progress on wild church should happen this term once the next family worker is in post. Training resources are being brought together and also exploring of ways to engage with families.
A new book “A manifesto for hope” (Steve Chalk) has just been published. This book and its recommendations are very close to both the ethos and issues that the Rainbow family worker project was set up to address. It is hoped that we will find space and resources to call together people and other agencies to explore what with might mean for us in this area.