One of the key values of PMC is risk. We want to stay open to the trying stuff out and taking on the potential for things not working out quite the way we hoped. Of course we pray for discernment, try and follow the Holy Spirit, take the responsible use of our resources seriously. But we want to be experimental. And we want to be willing to stop when things aren’t working out.

There are a number of projects that PMC has started which have now come to an end. All have been beneficial in terms of our overall vision. And all have enabled us to learn to grow and develop. Below are the stories of these projects.

Green Rd Park

play shipWhen Paul & Emily Bradbury first arrived in Old Town, Poole and started to get to know people in the community they began to look for ways to build community through service. It soon became apparent that one of the issues people were very passionate about was the state of the local play park. The local authority has invested a lot of money in play parks across Poole but for some reason this play park has not received any. Furthermore the park was looking tired and in need of refurbishment.

Emily got support from Cllr Carol Evans and began collecting signatures on a petition asking for support in gettiGreen Road Play Park Groupng the park refurbished. A group of local residents was then formed to try and begin to do something practical. Soon Council officers were involved and a vision began to emerge of how the park could look. Residents and school groups from all the local schools in the area were consulted. A plan went to the local area committee and £90,000 was secured from the Council’s budget! This was added to with £20,000 from the Poole Housing Partnership.

Work began in the winter of 2012 and the park was opened by the then Mayor of Poole, Cllr Carol Evans in June 2012.

The legacy of that project however, apart from a beautiful and well loved new park, is the relationship with the community. This was a genuine community-led project with residents from the local housing estate working alongside Council officers and local politicians. It was a huge achievement which gave a great deal of credibility to PMC in the local community.

Old Town Community Garden

P1010616Another issue for the local community that was picked up in the early days was the lack of outdoor space for many people, especially those living in high rise blocks. We planned to explore how we might get to know people, build community and provide some outdoor activity for local people. As we began to think that growing vegetables together might be a way forward we came across a notice on the door of the local Children’s Centre asking for anyone who might want to get involved in a community garden. And so Old Town Community Garden was born. A small number of local families met on a Saturday morning once a month to tend a small plot of land in the garden of Old Town Children’s Centre.

09042011746It was great fun and helped develop some lasting relationships with local people. It was also a great way to introduce some local children to the wonder of growing your own veg!

After 3 years however a number of key families moved out of the area and we realised we were going to struggle to maintain the garden with those left. Since the end of the Old Town Community Garden another community garden has been started in the communal grounds of the Old Town estate.

Cafe No34

No34 cakeWe developed an association with this cafe in Poole High St when PMC began renting an office at the top of it in 2009. Gradually much of the life of PMC (Space for Life, Reconnect) began to find a home there through the welcome of the owner. Then in October 2011 the cafe unfortunately went bust and we began to pray and consider whether God might be calling us to run it ourselves. Having raised £17,000 very quickly and built a team with the sort of experience necessary we took out a licence and opened in early February 2012.

Our vision was “to be a welcoming place of hope and creativity that helps us to live ‘life to the full’” and over the 3 years in which we ran No34 we certainly achieved that. No34 grew to be a hugely important community for many people. It was a place of recovery, transformation and for some a place to explore faith: ”a place of peace”, “a caring, sharing, environment”, “a feeling of belonging and community”.

As we developed the project however it became clear that our model of a community of staff and volunteers at the heart of the project was going to be hard to sustain with the constant demands of running a catering business. The building, beautiful and quirky with bags of character, was also a physically tiring place to work in. We came to the conclusion that to run the business sustainably we would have to compromise on the vision of community at the heart of it. So we reluctantly but unanimously agreed to bring the project to a close in December 2014.

The communities that grew within No34;  Reconnect, Space for Life, a knitting group, a book group as well as the relationships within the cafe as a whole, have all moved on well from No34 itself. Many volunteers and staff have found a home at Wesley’s, the new cafe at The Spire Centre on Poole High St. Reconnnect meets there, Space for Life has found a fantastic new home at The Lookout Cafe in the Dolphin Centre. The story of No34 expresses our commitment to risk and to a nomadic, incarnational mode of community and mission which holds the value of buildings lightly and which remains open to the Spirit moving us on.