By James Creed, Play and Youth Team Leader. We’re really blown away by the fundraising from 1970s Southmead; this sort of kindness will make a huge difference over the coming year. We plan to spend it on our Easter holiday events programme and on some much-needed repairs to play equipment. It’s fantastic to see a past generation of Southmead kids put their strength into helping to make sure that opportunities continue for today’s young generation at well-loved places like The Ranch.
The Ranch is owned by the Council who licence it to tenants to operate. At the beginning of last year, the tenants who were running it could not carry on and the Council asked the Southmead Development Trust to become the new licensees. We knew it was extremely important to our community for The Ranch not to close and there was no-one else to take it on. But taking it on was a huge risk as we knew we would have to find the funds to keep the site open. Luckily, it was the charity Playbus’s responsibility to staff and run the play sessions, and so we were delighted that they would continue while we looked at ways to fund the site’s bills and upkeep.
Sadly, Playbus, a well-loved charity in Bristol for 50 years, then closed. We were then left with both the costs for operating the building and for the play sessions, including paying staff. The first thing we did was to take on the experienced Playbus staff who already worked at The Ranch so they could continue to run the same number of sessions. Unfortunately, the costs involved quickly became too much for us and so we had to take the difficult decision that, in order to raise money, we needed to put the Saturday sessions on hold and move them to Tuesdays. This is so we can earn revenue from hiring out The Ranch as a Saturday party space.
A play session involves the running costs of the site itself including insurance, the wages of fully qualified staff, and the price of materials needed for the session. The Ranch cannot be open without fully qualified staff as it is not a public park. The good news is that we’re still open for three sessions a week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 3:00pm until 5:00pm. All our sessions are fun and welcoming. Do come and join us and let us know what you think!
We are also the licensees of the Southmead Youth Centre on Arnside. It is open on Mondays and Tuesdays to everyone between the age of 11 and 18, from 5:00pm until 7:00pm. Again, this building is owned by the Council; after it was at risk of closure in 2014 the Southmead Development Trust agreed to take on the licence to run it. In order to meet the costs of keeping the building open we rent out its rooms and spaces to other organisations, and this rent helps to pay for the bills and towards our staff and session costs there.
Raising funds to keep buildings running is a full-time job and, as mentioned, we have recently been working on offering our spaces for parties and events – you may have seen our banners up. If you’d like to hire a space for an event or party, please do get in touch with me.
The 1970s Southmead group are hiring the Old School Hall at our other site, the Greenway Centre, to have a great big party and to continue to raise funds for Southmead’s young people. Remember to get your ticket as soon as possible because it’s going to be busy!
In the coming weeks we’ll be sending out an invitation to our Volunteer Forum so that everyone can come and find out more about what we’re doing and how to help – keep a look out for posters and on social media for the date.
Meanwhile, a massive thanks to 1970s Southmead for all their efforts; we’re delighted that the community is helping to support our kids and young people – I firmly believe they are not just the future, they are also the solution.
Contact: James Creed, telephone: 0117 950 3335, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
this item first appeared in The Mead, January 2020