THE very rural Church of St James, Welland, in Worcester
diocese, was open for only an hour each week on Sundays. Parishioners of the
Hanley Castle benefice, of which the church is a part, met for half a day to
ask where their churches were going, and what were their local needs. If money
was going to be raised to spend on them, said their incumbent, the Revd Frances
Wookey, then they must be put to greater use.
The people of Welland decided their greatest need was for their local
teenagers. The young people of the village (population 1200) had nowhere to go.
The Victorian St James's had an undercroft vestry used simply as a storeroom,
and as damp and uninviting as most neglected cellars. But it had an entrance
separate from the church, was structurally sound, and was big enough to be a
With £7000 from the Local Network Fund, and the teenagers themselves
pitching in to do the decorating, says David Richardson, a churchwarden, the
result was a comfortable room with heating, chairs, television, and a pool
Many of the teenagers had never been inside the church, and did not want to
be known as a "church group", or to be supervised. But, with adult help, they
drew up a code of conduct covering rules and safety, and now have a drop-in
centre they variously describe as "cool" and "wicked".