The community of South Barrow recently completed the re-ordering of their parish church to make it a more versatile space for the community. They have been able to do so with the support and encouragement of the Diocese and a £20,000 grant from Somerset Community Foundation’s W.C.S. Pickford Trust fund. South Barrow is a small hamlet without a shop, pub or community hall. In fact their sole communal space was their historic church which is only used a few times a year.
The project has now created a place where a wide variety of community activity – village meetings, keep fit classes, a gardening club - can take place throughout the year. Last week they launched the village film club, with a showing of ‘Some Like it Hot’. Facilities such as this are essential to communities, particularly in rural areas where services are limited. They help underpin and build ‘social capital’ which, in turn, means more people can enjoy a better quality of life and feel less isolated, and that is good for their health and well-being.
The conversion of the Church has been handled sensitively, with the retention of architectural feature of interest. For example medieval pew-ends have been re-used to form the barrier to an upstairs balcony. A new life has been breathed into the church as a focal point for the whole community.
WCS Pickford Trust was the first dormant trust to transfer to Somerset Community Foundation in 2007. Over the years it has funded new play equipment, maintenance of the recreation field, and community groups active in the surrounding area.