Southmead’s Time to Shine – BBC DIY SOS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sunday 23rd May 2022
Southmead’s Time to Shine!
Our children and families are getting super excited about being on the telly on Tuesday evening. Tune in to BBC One at 8pm to watch DIY SOS The Big Build – Southmead.
Last October Nick Knowles and the team landed at our Southmead Adventure Playground (The Ranch) and sent us packing for nine days while they transformed the site. Volunteers and tradespeople arrived from far and wide to help out and the results are brilliant! It was an amazing example of what can happen when residents and volunteers are rallied.
The Ranch has had a notoriously difficult time across the decades, it has been burned down and rebuilt twice and has seen valiant attempts by different charities to deliver play services in the community.
The Ranch is the oldest Adventure Playground in Bristol and its story is not unusual. As part of a network of five Adventure Playgrounds: Felix Road, The Vench, St Pauls and the Hideout, each have suffered set-backs over the years.
Most importantly, the Council began to cut funds to play delivery in 2013 and instead to offer site leases to charitable organisations to run play services.
When The Ranch was in danger of complete closure in 2018, the Southmead Development Trust took a huge risk, with little funds, to take the lease for The Ranch and run a skeleton service. But before we could raise sufficient funds to increase sessions, the pandemic arrived and we had to close.
As we began to pick back up again last year there was a “miracle”, as Lil, one of our Playworkers describes it in the programme. One of our volunteers reached out to the DIY SOS team for help and before we knew it, it was ‘camera, lights, action’: one of their planned stories had fallen through and we were a rapid replacement.
It was incredible luck and the boost we really needed. At great speed the DIY SOS team sought donations of labour and materials, and the Trust was able to pledge funds to pay for the rest.
Our children and families poured back in last November and since then things have literally been in full-swing. Our Youth and Play Manager, Will Dorney, said:
“The quality of the facilities here now are exactly what our children and young people deserve. It shows them they’re worth it. We now have record attendance numbers.
“Also, since relocating our local Youth Club here we have noticed a huge leap in young people spending time with us, and a decrease in anti-social behavior around the community. If young people have somewhere decent to go with committed staff they can trust it’s a no brainer that they’ll come”.
Pete de Boer, Senior Practitioner for Youth and Community at Bristol City Council said: “We’re very proud of working in partnership with the Southmead Development Trust at The Ranch. The Voluntary and Community Sector are integral to supporting children and young people’s personal and social development, as well as keeping children and young people safe and out of harm’s way.
“The Ranch is an essential resource in Southmead and we really look forward to continued partnership working for the years to come”.
After a tricky decade for play delivery and youth services across Bristol, it seems that the future could look a little brighter – community organisations are on the ground working with families to provide what is needed.
Amy Kinnear, Southmead Development’s Trust CEO said: “Never has children’s mental and physical health been more important as all our young people recover from the pandemic. Children in Bristol flock to our adventure playgrounds to play, exercise, re-connect, access free hot food, and challenge themselves.
“We work closely with other organisations in Bristol as part of a network called Playful Bristol. This means our communities are strongly linked and we can help each other on all aspects of youth and play work.
“The DIY SOS renovation is a boost for all of our Adventure Playgrounds in the City as the story is the same for each: the playgrounds are a vital part of our communities and integral to children as they play, learn and grow. They must be kept safe, up to date and properly staffed.
“The project has given us a real lift and we can’t wait to see the show go out. However, the morning after its broadcast we will be back to earth with a bump to continue the incredibly hard and expensive work of running a large site like The Ranch. We want to increase opening hours and keep our lovely site in good condition for generations to come – we can’t take our eye off raising funds for a second. If you can help in anyway please do consider supporting us or your local Bristol adventure playground.”
Images: please feel free to use any from our website – credit: Southmead Development Trust
Suzanne Daggar, Communications Manager, Southmead Development Trust. Tel: 0117 950 3335
Amy Kinnear, CEO, Southmead Development Trust. Tel: 0117 950 3335
Peter de Boer, Senior Practitioner Youth and Community, Bristol City Council. Tel: 07795 445 612
Southmead Development Trust works alongside residents in North Bristol to help to keep communities strong, resilient, and resourceful. Our expert teams connect with adults, children, families and community groups to offer support with physical and mental health, employment and training, area regeneration, and community business. We create and provide inspiring community spaces for groups, clubs, classes, events, meetings, training and business at the Greenway Centre and the Southmead Adventure Playground (The Ranch).