Transforming young lives through the gift of sport

A charity that is having a positive impact on the lives of thousands of young people throughout Gloucestershire has achieved external recognition as the first Centre of Excellence in the UK for its exciting new concept of Sports Ministry.

PSALMS (Putting Sport alongside Local Ministries) was established in 2005 to support and encourage local churches of all Christian denominations in reaching out to their communities through sport. The registered charity uses sport to engage with young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds in rural or semi-rural areas. Although Christian-based, PSALMS work with young people of all faiths and none.

In 2016, the success of PSALMS led to a three-way partnership being formed between the charity, the Scripture Union and the Diocese of Gloucester. The aim is to develop models of sports ministry that could be replicated throughout the UK. Many of its programmes are monitored and evaluated with the learnings set to be shared throughout the country.

A recent grant of £45,000 from Allchurches Trust means that fundraising towards the £300,000 target for phase one of this ambitious partnership project is almost complete. This funding 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.

A team of eight Sports Ministers currently works with PSALMS, equipping young people with new skills and empowering them to use them, increasing their confidence and encouraging them to take pride in their achievements and be positive role models.

PSALMS 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. In August 2018, PSALMS ran a football tournament inside the magnificent Gloucester Cathedral.

James Laing, Director of Grants and Relationships at Allchurches Trust, said: “This innovative project is reaching out to some of the most vulnerable young people through sport, channelling their energy into activities that boost their physical and mental health and wellbeing and encouraging them to be a force for good within their communities. We’re delighted to be able to support it, and look forward to sharing the learning so that churches and communities throughout the UK can follow in their footsteps.”

Chair of PSALMS, Canon Ian Marsh, said: “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.”

PSALMS has recently been recognised as the only Centre of Excellence in the UK for Sports Ministry by Professor Andrew Parker at the University of Gloucestershire and the Scripture Union.

PSALMS-1.jpg#asset:766