St Barnabas Knowle, Bristol
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St Barnabas, Knowle is located on the Knowle West estate in South Bristol and is a warm and friendly church set on the edge of the Northern Slopes http://www.northern-slopes-initiative.co.uk in Knowle West estate, South Bristol.
It is unique in Bristol in that local Anglicans and Baptists have joined together in partnership and worship and work together for the well-being of the community of Knowle West and to make the love of God known. Our sister church of Holy Cross, Inns Court, located 1 mile from St Barnabas, is also part of the partnership.
We use the former Knowle West Baptist Church as a facility for community and family use which includes a monthly community breakfast (first Saturday morning from 9.30 am), a drop in for the unemployed (Tuesdays at 10 am), children's parties, occasional group bookings and adult baptisms by immersion.
We are part of Knowle West Churches Together and share with partner churches on the estate in the running of the Filwood Hope Centre located in Filwood Broadway which offers advice and support to people in needs of help http://www.filwoodhope.org.
St Barnabas is a popular venue for child baptism (christening), weddings and funerals. And we hold half yearly memorial services in memory of the dear departed.
Although a small congregation, we are actively involved in a wide range of community groups and activities including regeneration planning.
In recent years, a network of intentional community households has developed in which people have chosen to come and live on the estate to share in God's mission. This includes the Lee Abbey community household which was established in Knowle West some 20 years ago http://www.leeabbey.org.uk/households.
We are part of the Bristol South deanery (http://www.bristol.anglican.org/our-churches/bristol-south-deanery/) and the West of England Baptist Association (http://www.webassoc.org.uk).
Profile of the Parish of Filwood Park (Knowle West)
The south Bristol estate, popularlyy known as Knowle West or K-West (West of the area known as Knowle) was built in the 1930s to house people relocated from demolished slum areas of central Bristol. It includes the Filwood Ward and part of the Knowle Ward and has a resident population of some 15,000 people, predominantly white working class. In many ways the estate has invisible boundaries marking distinct communities and each area has its own unique character.
The estate suffers from a bad reputation and shows ‘all the classic symptoms of a ward with serious social stress’. Certainly, the socio-demographic data is grim reading. For example, Knowle West ranks seventh from bottom out of all wards in the UK for educational achievement.
However, statistics of this sort mask the reality on the ground of a community in which local people and statutory and voluntary agencies are working together with others to develop a wide range of initiatives to bring about renewal and significant change.
There are a number of community-based projects through which local people are seeking to make Knowle West a safer and more desirable place to live and the local authority has prioritised the estate in its strategic regeneration plans for the city.
In the wider community, there is a highly acclaimed innovative community education centre called The Park, a vibrant Media Centre, a Walk-In Health Centre and active Health Association, several community associations with their own centres, a Sure Start project known as Footprints, and Community in Partnership and Neighbourhood Partnership groups majoring on issues of unemployment, community safety, anti-social behaviour, educational achievement, health and well-being and regeneration.
Working partnerships of various kinds have been established between community groups, the police, area housing, social services, health services, youth services, the community development team, local schools and churches to tackle a wide range of issues. The Inns Court Residents Association has been very successful in cleaning up the Inns Court community and reducing levels of crime in partnership with the Council and Police. And the Northern Slopes Initiative group has worked hard at securing and developing the sizeable green space known as the Northern Slopes.
Numerous local groups have sprung up to address specific problems, including Knowle West Alcohol and Drugs Project (KWADs), schemes supporting ex-offenders, a Credit Union, a Healthy Living Centre and the Re:Work project.
Knowle West Churches Together is very active in the community and has a long-established drop-in centre called Filwood Hope, located in Filwood Broadway, providing counselling and advice services in partnership with Christian Network Counselling.
Knowle West is part of the South Bristol C21 Area Integrated Regeneration Framework and Delivery Plan and has been earmarked as a priority area for development with master planning which began in 2009. Significant growth is expected in the next 20 years with anticipated major infrastructure: housing, transport, retail and formal and informal green space developments in the Knowle West area and surrounds.
Knowle West is a community in transition. The long-standing self-reinforcing negative image of the community is gradually giving way to one that is much more positive, hopeful and self-confident.
It is recognised that there is a long way to go but people are confident that they can make Knowle West an even better place in which to live and work.
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The current editor is: Alister Palmer