A group of like minded volunteers decided that they would form a group to try and meet the identified needs of young people through the summer holidays. Many of these volunteers were working within the Youth Service or parents of bored youngsters who decided action had to be taken. Bath Summer Youth Project was formed. Because of the links with the Youth Service, the areas where activities were planned were where Youth Centres were well established – Weston at Centre 69, Whiteway at Southside Youth Centre.
Building on the success and popularity, a Committee was formed to plan the following year.
In 1980, the Walcot Reservation began and was held on a former adventure playground site. The Bath City Council Parks Department loaned a Horse box to store equipment and to provide very limited shelter. The death slide, rope swing and rope bridge were well used and children had fires each day and did their own cooking. Several tents sprang up during the course of the Project and also constructed a number of structures.
At Whiteway there was an increased number of 16+ due to high unemployment and so activities were aimed at a specific age groups including Friday afternoon discos, Competitions between other sites including junior football and senior 5-a-side. The activities were structured, challenging and often meant transport was organised in order to access them e.g. rock climbing at Avon Youth Centre, canoeing at Batheaston, visits to Cheddar Gorge with little community based activity. Other activities included potholing in the disused limestone mines at Batheaston and using the assault course at St. Catherine’s which included archery and cross-bow shooting.
In Weston, based at Centre 69 there were more centre-based activities but after 5 weeks of daytime and evening use, youngsters became restless and so alternatives were devised including a week long trip to Bodmin Moor to an isolated cottage where self sufficiency was key. Juniors spent a week in Macoroni Woods in Gloucestershire, with visits to Barry Island, an assault course and a weekend excursion for the Club’s motorcycle club.
Similar programmes continued throughout the Summers of 1981,1982 and 1983 and in 1984 a pilot scheme was added and run in Sandpits Park where Hillside Hall was used as a wet weather alternative. Numbers were around 30 a day mainly in the 7 – 14 age group.
In 1985, Southdown and Foxhill Play Projects started.
The Southdown site based at the Roundhill Project did many of the traditional play activities including face painting, mask making, papier mache and sports. They also had access to their own minibus which was used for trips to the beach, Brokerswood, Lyme Regis, Swindon Oasis and Colerne Assault Course. An average of 80 children per day attended.
At Foxhill the site was the playing field at Hawthorn Grove which then had a roundabout! Attempts to use the church hall for wet weather activities and storage failed to materialise however trips out as well as F-stop photography workshops enabled 25 children a day when dry to enjoy their playscheme.
In 1986 the Walcot site moved to Kensington Meadows due to problems with the former site. Walcot Village Hall was used as a temporary base as and when needed plus the loan of a garage providing storage, telephone and toilet facilities (!!) The committee agreed that this situation was not ideal and it was decided to concentrate on the Larkhall area and abandon Walcot.
The Odd Down scheme based at the Odd Down Youth Centre and Twerton scheme based at the Junior school both began in 1986. Both of which were led and in the main run by local mothers. Trips to Blaise Castle, Sand Bay, City Farm in Bristol, Rainbow Woods and Yelverton Air Museum were all popular with the wide age range. Both schemes had an average of 40 – 50 children per day which for new playschemes was very positive.
The same format was used for a few years until the committee identified further areas which would benefit as well as younger children who had nothing planned for the long school summer holidays. Funding was applied for from Bath City Council and a temporary worker, Mary Greenwood, was employed full time in 1986.
Many staff came from the Bath City Council Community programme, student placements and Youth Workers. There was also a standing camp on Dartmoor – this was set up and staffed and each playscheme site used it for a short period of time over the summer holidays.
Bath Area Play Project became the new name and schemes were opened at Larkhall and Weston. The Larkhall one was shared with the Sports Centre and with increased funding from Bath City Council a worker was employed on each site to work with the Manager. The Community programme Bath Play provided 4 additional workers for support where needed. Adventure holidays to the standing camp on Dartmoor provided 100 children with exciting opportunities under canvas and sailing, canoeing and horse riding. Others back in Bath went on trips to Bowood, Bristol Zoo, Cheddar Gorge and the seaside.
Bath Area Community Trust provided funding for workshops and entertainments at each site including video-making, photography, music, puppet shows and drama workshops.
An average of 500 children a day enjoyed a summer playscheme during 1987.
Walcot moved to Walcot Village Hall working with the Walcot Community Association.
Weston, not open in 1986, but based at the Recreation Ground with partial use of Centre 69.
Foxhill were able to use St.Andrews Church Hall this year.
Larkhall were based at St. Mark’s Comprehensive School grounds – there was no access to indoor facilities at all.
Howard Lawes was appointed as Co-ordinator and playschemes ran in 9 areas, 5 of which were joint initiatives with the Sports Centre – Twerton, Odd Down, Whiteway, Southdown, Foxhill, Oldfield Park, Weston, Larkhall and Walcot. Work was also done to acknowledge the valuable input from the local communities where playschemes were run and to establish Play Forums in each of the areas. Easter playschemes were also provided in Walcot, Twerton, Southdown and Whiteway. BAPP were also involved in the Fringe Festival with No Fit State Circus spending 4 days at Odd Down with 100 children a day juggling, tightrope walking and unicycling.
Saw the beginning of a playscheme specifically for children with special needs held at Wansdyke Special School, taking the total number of playschemes to 10. Bath MENCAP approached BAPP and asked us to provide a playscheme specifically for children with learning difficulties. Time was spent consulting with parents and carers and the playscheme was open to disabled children with a huge amount of volunteers supporting the staff team.
There were four Easter playschemes, two Christmas playschemes and a half term video week at Southdown.
The programme continued with increased numbers of children and demand for high quality play. We successfully applied to BBC Children In Need for funding to provide two arts-based residential holidays. Small groups of children were nominated as benefiting from going away with high staff numbers to do arts-based activities in a different environment. We were very lucky to be able to use a farm in Devon; the owners were very accommodating and 24 children had a terrific experience. This continued each year.We started a pioneering integration programme where disabled children were able to attend their local playscheme supported by a volunteer. Many children then went on to regular attendance proving the benefits for all children.
Lisa Capper was appointed as Co-ordinator.
Playschemes ran in Whiteway, Southdown, Twerton, Odd Down, Foxhill, Riverside (Walcot moved to the Youth Centre), Weston, Larkhall, Oldfield Park and a scheme specifically for children with Special Needs. There was also intensive work with Twerton Play Forum, assisting them in acquiring a building for use with children as well as entering a float in the Bath Carnival.
A similar playscheme programme was run with 10 sites open in the summer, 4 at Christmas and 3 at Easter. This was the first year that we worked with Bath City Council Parks Department to provide the Junior Play Tent at the Bath Spring Flower Show in Royal Victoria Park. Over the weekend hundreds of children new to playing with scrap, getting messy and making hats came in and it was declared a success which was to be repeated for many years to come.
We also piloted some playwork training at the Hut which was later developed into Take 10 for Play.
Lisa Capper got a new job with Kids Club Network and Caroline Haworth was appointed as Co-ordinator. 11 sites were run including a new City Centre one based at Percy Community Centre providing play opportunities for many children without access to gardens or large play spaces.
We worked with WOMAD to provide unusual workshops in addition to the usual photography and screen printing.
We were also given a grant from Barclays to employ a Development Worker to look into the integration of children with special needs into mainstream play provision. With our young volunteers we were able to film and put together a video, with the help of BCTV, aimed at encouraging young people to get involved in supporting children with special needs at playschemes. At Easter the parents and local community in Odd Down gave their time freely to run a playscheme which we supported with resources and equipment as well as support and training for the volunteers.
Same number of playschemes in same areas with partnership working with other voluntary sector groups. These included Bath Community Bus in Foxhill, Bath Festivals Trust providing children’s entertainers and workshops and Bath Sports Development providing sports equipment for every scheme.
Hebron & Medlock donated a 17 seater minibus to us which was used to take hundreds of children on trips throughout the summer. The summer ended with a knockout competition between playschemes – Twerton won the football and Whiteway won the rounders.
The Oldfield Park site moved to Moorlands Infant School and became closed access due to the school site, and numbers of children had to be limited. It was heavily oversubscribed.
The Government developed a childcare strategy which was accompanied by funding for pump priming new initiatives. We successfully applied and the scheme ran at Percy Community Centre. This became a closed access full daycare facility open every day after school. It collected children from local school and during every school holiday.
The summer programme ran at 11 sites culminating in a Football tournament held at Twerton Park. Bristol Rovers presented winners medals to Odd Down and all children had a great day. The playscheme for children with special needs had to find a new home, moving from Wansdyke School to Culverhay who were extremely helpful and very accommodating. We were even allowed to use the swimming pool every day – for some children this was fantastic. We took the lead role in the development of the B&NES Play Forum – a gathering of like minded play people to ensure that play was kept on the agenda during local authority reorganisation.
We produced a series of information leaflets providing details of our services. Summer playschemes ran in the usual areas with the exception of Larkhall, which due to limitations of the site and the Children Act we were unable to continue. Batheaston Parish Council approached us and we agreed to run a scheme in the Memorial Hall on Coal pit Lane.
We continued to offer support, advice and information to parents looking for playschemes and playgroups, people wanting to set up after school clubs and people requiring training.
We celebrated our 18th birthday! The programme ran as before with playschemes on 11 sites, the Flower Show, play training, support and advice and residential holidays to Wales.
The summer ended with a huge party for children and families on Culverhay Playing Field. Hot air balloon, coconut shy, barbecue with free food donated by the Coop, quad bikes, bouncy castle, face painting and a 2,000 balloon release.
Every child was able to write their name and age on a tag and the BAPP address was pre-printed. Those returned came from London, Essex and Wales! Those travelling the furthest won a prize for the child.
Caroline went on maternity leave and Kate Hellard was appointed as temporary Co-ordinator for 6 months. We received funding for a Development Worker for disabled children and Kate got the post!
The Percy After School Club had to move premises temporarily whilst building work took place and was relocated to the Salvation Army Hall, who were very accommodating at such short notice.
The YMCA took over the Roundhill Community Centre building and decided that they would run play provision themselves. Other sites continued as before.
We began providing children’s services for short term courses and training as well as providing the usual services.
The YMCA got funding to set up an after school club at Moorlands Infants school and so our playscheme was no longer needed. Batheaston Parish Council decided to try and run something themselves which we supported by helping them set up a committee.
Successful National Lottery Award gave us funding for toys and resources specifically for disabled children. With increasing problems at Culverhay with the site being so open and close to a main road we decided to relocate to the Hut in Twerton.
The Youth Club end of the building was just being used for storage and so after the Lottery agreed some of the money could be used for minor building work, it all began. Toilets were made accessible, a ramp built outside and a Soft Play and Sensory room were designed and installed.
With a lot of help from staff and volunteers a fantastic child-friendly space was created which hopefully will get more and more use.
The Summer playscheme programme was reduced due to funding – Walcot playscheme was underused and so using Best Value it was decided not to run here this year, leaving 5 open-access and 2 closed access schemes at Percy and The Hut.
There were increased amounts of play training across the authority, with demand for creche service increasing as well as the Junior Play Tent and the creche at the Flower Show.
We initiated the development of the Playwork Network for all those working in play settings as well as the running of the Percy After School Club. Children from the ASC entered the opening night of the Bath festival and won first prize.
Percy Community Centre put up their rent and decided that they would run the Club and rename it Phoenix.
We received funding for two new posts – a Development Worker to support out of school clubs, ensuring that quality play is at the forefront of what they do and that they remain viable. And an Outreach Worker to develop provision and use of the Hut for disabled children.
Bridget Wells was employed and followed up evaluations from children and parents, indicating the need for extended services. These became Stay “n’ Play on Saturdays, where there is a disabled child in the family and they can all come and play, and Teenage Rampage for disabled teenagers aged 13+, a club during the evening. These are funded monthly and are a success.
We continued to do what we do – playschemes, creches, play training. We heard that our bid to set up and run a Toy library for school age children had been approved and started consultation with children and families. In April 2002, the Toy Library started with an official opening in July, at which Spiderman declared it open!
Also in July we started a new Community Play Ranger project employing two playworkers to work in a park in Whiteway. Their job is to encourage greater use of the park by children for play. They are employed 20 hours a week year round and work with schools and other agencies to develop understanding of the importance of play.
All our open-access playschemes were finally registered with OFSTED and run in the usual 5 areas of Bath but with a change of venue for Weston – we moved to the Moravian Church Hall as Centre 69 was being used temporarily by the Corn market Family Centre. The new venue attracted double the number of children each day with a very successful playscheme.
December 2002 Sure Start Early Service started with the Creche at the Hut opening Monday to Friday 9am 3pm. The B&NES Play Awards theme was inclusion and BAPP won everything in the holiday playscheme category. 1st Southside, 2nd Twerton and Highly Commended Weston.