APE is an acronym for Art, Play, Environment and these are the three key principles that drive our mission to enhance the lives of children and young people through the provision of open access freely chosen play opportunities and quality activities.
We aim to deliver supportive environments and workshops for children and young people creative problem solving, sense of self worth, co-operative learning, resilience, risk taking, social skills. We provide stimulating, challenging, exciting and educational experiences in a safe open space where children feel valued and supported. In 2017 the APE Project took on the management and running of St. Pauls Adventure Playground through a Community Asset Transfer from Bristol City Council.
St. Pauls and the Adventure Playground - St. Pauls is in an area that has seen, and is still in the process of, much change. A melting pot of once a predominantly Afro Caribbean Windrush generation is now joined by an influx of families from Somalia, East Africa and the Middle East, many finding refuge in this city fleeing from war torn homelands.
Our playground is a space where people come together - a neutral family focused centre, which helps people makes friends, breaks down barriers and eases tensions between disparate communities. We open the gates to St Pauls Adventure Playground 3 days a week and welcome around 150+ children and 75+ parents and carers to play, meet, make, experiment, get creative, eat and find support.
Why Funding is Needed - The reality is that many communal spaces and parks in the area are not safe environments for children and young people due to criminal and social issues. St. Pauls Adventure Playground provides a consistent, safe community space where through free play and projects the community is brought together regardless of socio-economic status, religion, ethnicity, background or history.
Bristol City Council statistical ward profiles 2019 highlight some of the statistical realities for those that use our playground.
- Half of the children are living in poverty - 48.2% are from low income households
- Children from this area perform worse at schools
- Many will die younger - they are facing significantly worse premature mortality than others in Bristol
- Our users live in overcrowded houses, 17% compared to a 5% Bristol average
- Overall our users live in one of the most deprived 10% areas in England
Monitoring of service users show that the community has the following concerns: antisocial behaviour, mental health issues, social isolation and poverty. Living with poverty and disadvantage is a risk factor that children will experience adverse childhood experiences, shown to impact on their future health, education and other life outcomes.
The Good News
Since the adventure playground was taken over by the APE Project we have grown from 12 registered families to over 700. With no government provision for under 12’s we are able to identify more ‘at risk’ children, young people and families that would otherwise go unnoticed. Our intervention means we are able signpost families to resources and services earlier than other organisations might.
We strive to facilitate an open, supportive, social environment where children and young people are encouraged to take ownership of the play space and decision making to create an inclusive, egalitarian play space for all. We create a climate for children to participate in activities in a variety of concerns: ecology, recycling and sustainability, life skills, bicycle maintenance, art, design, craft, making, invention and cooking. Our facilities are fully inclusive and open to all. Monitoring in August 2019 figures show that:
- 70% of our users are classed as BME / 40% identify as Somali or Somali British
- over 50% live in social housing
The Funding Ask - The APE Project is seeking funding to the amount of £10,000 to run free bike maintenance sessions. This is to pay for free weekly bike training sessions for 11 to 18 years olds living in poverty that come into our bike shop with no money to fix their bikes. We want to offer them free training and distribute free basic tools to empower and enable these children to service their own bikes instead of paying a fortune getting them repaired in high street shops. Our project will:
* develop the skills of participating children
* break down cultural barriers / fight racism/ promote inclusion
* empower children to reach their potential
* ease the problems of anti-social behaviour and localised crime
* reach out to vulnerable children