Hampshire: Church launches community pride campaign

The church at the heart of Paulsgrove in Hampshire has launched a campaign encouraging residents to feel proud of their local community.

Paulsgrove Carnival was the launch pad for the campaign last weekend (Saturday 27 June). St Michael’s Church is working with local schools, businesses and community groups to create a ‘Proud to be Paulsgrove’ campaign, using branded T-shirts, badges, postcards and a series of fun events to celebrate the community.
 
The church will bring volunteers, schools and businesses together to find the best ways to promote the positive things happening in the area and St Michael’s will lay on social events themselves, such as a fish and chip supper, a kids’ fun day and a community fair.
 
The vicar, the Rev Ian Newton said: “It is really important to us to celebrate that this is a great place to live and also show how much the Church of England is part of this community. When we asked people about Paulsgrove as a place to live, they always talked about the good and honest people, good family housing and green spaces, and they cannot understand why there is still a stigma sometimes attached to Paulsgrove by outsiders. So we wanted to work with other local people to get a positive message about Paulsgrove across.
 
“It is a bit of new thing for our church to take a more high-profile approach, but it is about reminding longer-standing residents as well as newer residents in our area, that we are their church, here for them. We are beginning to reach out with new messages and we are getting an enthusiastic response from local people and businesses. We are already running out of our first campaign materials!
 
“People are now starting to talk to us about the campaign and their ideas for some good things that the church can be involved in starting. This is great and if we can get more people involved, then even more wonderful things can happen.”
 
“St Michael’s church is located at the centre of the community and is the logical and welcoming place to start or run good activity for the people of Paulsgrove. We would love to hear from other people in the community who want to start or help out with some fun events or activities.”
 
Churchwarden Penny Golding said: “It is great to see the church being more confident and listening to the great feedback that we are getting. I work in customer services and we have to get out there into the community more to get our message across. We are hoping that we can now turn this new interest into new people attending the events and also getting more involved over the summer leading to some big special events at Christmas.”
 
This initiative is part of a broader campaign being launched by the Church of England locally. Similar ‘proud to be’ campaigns are planned for Leigh Park and West Leigh over the next few months.
 
The impetus and funding has come from the Rapid Development Programme, run by the Council for Social Responsibility, based at Portsmouth’s Church of England diocese.
 
Head of Social Responsibility Canon Nick Ralph said: “It has been inspiring and enjoyable working in Paulsgrove. It is a community that has sometimes been stigmatised but the church is now developing new and more systematic ways of engaging with its local community in positive and outward ways.
 
“Proud to be Paulsgrove is the beginning of a series of three similar campaigns in local communities to increase the profile and engagement of the church with their local communities.
 
“We are using the charity’s own earnings and our own business development funds to resource these campaigns with local parishes and their communities, and if they take off, then we can then roll them out to other communities across this and other dioceses.”


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