Established in Painswick, Gloucestershire in 2005, PSALMS uses sport to engage with young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds in rural or semi-rural areas. Although Christian-based, the charity works with young people of all faiths and none.
12 people have completed the PSALMS Sports Ministry training programme since its inception in 2017, and of the 12, nine graduates are currently working in ministry or with young people as their main employment. They are equipping young people with new skills and the empowerment to use them, increasing confidence and encouraging them to take pride in their achievements and be positive role models.
PSALMS has set up Pulse FC – a football club for young men who have been excluded from school – and Kick Off Stroud, which is a social enterprise providing employment opportunities for the graduates of Pulse FC and the charity’s other programmes.
The success of PSALMS has led to a three-way partnership being formed between the charity, the Scripture Union and the Diocese of Gloucester. The aim was to develop models of sports ministry that could be replicated throughout the UK. Sports Ministry is a key vision for the Gloucester Diocese for the next 5 years, and the achievements and learning gained through the PSALMS project have been instrumental in formulating that vision.
An Allchurches Trust grant of £45,000 helped fund this ambitious partnership, which is enabling sports specialists to assist with and run youth clubs, sports sessions and other activities, often working with local schools, youth clubs, churches and town councils.
“It has been so exciting to see many young people, most of whom have previously had no experience of traditional church, enjoying the opportunities that Sports Ministry affords for fun, competitiveness, relationship building and learning about the Christian faith.” Chair of PSALMS, Canon Ian Marsh.
Since then, PSALMS has been recognised as a Centre of Excellence in the UK for Sports Ministry by Professor Andrew Parker at the University of Gloucestershire and the Scripture Union.
To add to this achievement, PSALMS has exceeded its 15% target for increasing the number of children and young people connected and discipled in the country because of Sports Ministry.
Prior to lockdown in March 2020, PSALMS Active RE sessions in schools were on course to be delivered more widely than previous years. A full suite of resources has been produced ready to get young people active.
In response to the pandemic, several digital lessons were also made available so that schools can continue to run lessons without having the sports coaches present.
As well as its sports ministry work, the charity works in partnership with local churches to provide other activities such as Messy Church events in the areas of Beacon, Chalford, Nailsworth, Thameshead and Stonehouse.
The charity also organises residentials, camps and events in the local area to encourage more people to get active.
Other services provided by PSALMS include “drop in” centres where they can get to know local young people by giving them time to “chat and chill” as well as a sports and arts workshops and training and events. They also run basketball coaching as well as a host of other sports clubs, various performance based clubs and the pulse leadership academy.