The Children Changing Places Project engages children, young people and families in activity that supports the growth of the Christian faith in schools, parishes and the home.
The Children Changing Places Project began in 2019 as a five-year, SDF-funded project, based in Bolton Deanery in the Diocese of Manchester. The key aim of the project has been to create discipleship pathways for children and young people, spanning the early years, primary-aged children and secondary-aged young people. The vision of the Children Changing Places Project team is for children, young people and families to call the church their ‘home’, by empowering local parishes to reach their community through a focus on children and young people. Although the project has grown primarily in Bolton, the hope is that the positive impact will grow beyond the town into the wider Diocese of Manchester.
This video explains some of the impact of the project over the last four years:
For many families, the faith journey begins when the child is very young, so toddler groups are a significant way for churches to engage with their community. The project helps existing toddler groups to become more intentionally Christian. The Early Years Worker has a key focus on working with toddler group leaders, as well as enabling churches to reach out to reception children, and their families, through 'Wiggle Worship'.
Children and Families
Children and Families Workers are working with Bolton clergy and their teams in developing strong partnerships with school staff in 30 CE Primary schools, developing the Christian ethos of the schools. They engage children in Key stages one and two in a range of Christian worship and discipleship activities, including Bible projects, Prayer Days, Ethos groups and Collective Worship. Children are given opportunities to grow in their faith, as well as being invited, with their families, to various expressions of church including Messy Church, Café Church and all-age family worship services.
The Chaplaincy Assistants, alongside the Chaplains, support the transition from primary to secondary school, nurturing a young person’s faith and enabling young people to access pastoral and spiritual care and mentoring at school. The Chaplaincy Assistants are an integral part of the school team, fostering strong relationships with young people and adults and influencing the Christian culture of the school. Each Chaplaincy Assistant is on placement within the local parish, developing and growing youth ministry.
A church toddler group is a fantastic way for churches to reach out to their local communities, especially to families with young children.
The church toddler group leaders in Bolton Deanery have grown in the distinctively Christian nature of their groups. The Toddler Team’s Hub runs once a term, to connect toddler leaders together for prayer, encouragement, and support, and to share training and resources.
“The Hub has been a wonderful resource for me as a new toddler group leader. It is invaluable to have a friendly, safe space to come and catch up with friendly like-minded people to share ideas, good practice and discuss any difficulties we might be having. I have been so grateful for the session planning that Steph shares too. It is so easy to just pick up and run with and saves me so much time!” - Suzi Spurr: Little Wiggles at St Peter’s Church Halliwell
The Early Years Worker has created a worship activity aimed at young children and their families. Wiggle Worship has flourished as a way of engaging children and families in worship, growing their understanding of God and growing their connection to church.
- 1,320 children in Bolton are engaged regularly in Wiggle Worship through school and/or church.
- It is an effective transition tool for children moving from toddler group to nursery, to reception class and then through KS1.
- 6 parishes have used Wiggle Worship to engage families in all-age worship and within their children’s ministry. Wiggle baptisms have engaged new families.
- The majority of parish toddler groups have become ‘Wiggle Tots’ groups.
For more information about Wiggle Worship, please contact Jo Haslam, Early Years Adviser, at: firstname.lastname@example.org
School Discipleship Groups
All of the CE primary schools in Bolton Deanery have Christian discipleship groups, which provide opportunities for children to grow in their faith.
Midweek Family Worship Services
Midweek Family Worship services are designed to provide a space specifically for children, and their families, to meet to worship, in an interactive and engaging way.
“Due to our children playing football at the weekends, we were unable to continue attending the Sunday service but still wanted to continue worshipping along with our children. The service on a Wednesday evening fits perfectly with our busy schedule and we also still have the option to attend on a Sunday should we be able to. The service is always delivered in a fun and interactive manner by Jo and Jan. It’s engaging for both adults and children alike with a different central theme each week. My children particularly look forward to carrying out the weekly challenges set and sharing them with the congregation the following week. The use of the interactive board and props are always received well by the children which in turn helps them to engage throughout the service. Overall we really enjoy the service delivered by Jo and Jan and have recommended it to other family members who have since joined the congregation." - Luke and Keeley Killeen: Mya, Elodie and Teddy
The project team have encouraged and supported parishes and schools to reach out to children and their families, through launching Fresh Expression. Fresh Expressions, based in school and church buildings, include Messy Church, Café Church and Forest Church.
Beyond: Y6 Transition Programme
BEYOND is an exciting exploration of the journey from Year 6 to Year 7, with interactive workshops which aim to inspire pupils to move up to secondary school in faith and confidence.
The impact of the Beyond Programme is clear to see, for those Year 6 pupils moving on to Church of England secondary schools. Due to the involvement of the secondary school Chaplaincy teams in the Beyond programme, relationships are built with many young people before the new term has even begun. Engagement with voluntary chaplaincy activities by new Year 7 pupils has also increased year-on-year, and we have received great feedback from pupils taking part:
"I learnt that there is no reason to be worried as we will be able to make friends on our coming journey." - Pupil from St John’s CE Primary, Kearsley
"The times that we prayed, it made me feel closer to God." - Pupil from Bolton Parish CE Primary School
Children’s Teams’ Hub
Once a term, the team lead a hub meeting to bring together a range of people involved in ministry to children and their families. The hub attracts children’s leaders and volunteers, school workers, school staff and clergy. Meetings include prayer and worship, training, discussion and resource sharing. Training is provided by a range of practitioners, from within Bolton churches and schools, as well as external speakers.
The Shades Project is an Anti-Racism and Faith project, which promotes racial justice. It includes: Shades Collective Worship, Shades Identity and Faith Workshops, Shades Ambassadors (discipleship) groups and Shades CPD sessions for staff teams.
- 3750 primary children and 1700 secondary young people have engaged with Shades Collective Worship, raising awareness of anti-racism, the Biblical perspective on diversity and inclusion and the challenge to become courageous advocates for each other
- 950 primary children have engaged with Shades Identity and Faith Workshops
- 53 children are engaged with Shades Ambassadors groups
- 15 school communities have transformed their approach to anti-racism, diversity and inclusion, with the Christian faith at the heart of their development
- 280 school staff members have participated in staff CPD sessions
“I never joined a club before Shades, but when I was part of the Shades Collective Worship assembly, it got me eager to join, and God let me….I want to thank Nicola and Paul for helping me to respect all faiths and colours." - Pupil from Bishop Bridgeman Primary
"The children have experienced a real sense of belonging. One child shared that she had been afraid to be proud of her faith in school before, but now, since joining Shades, teachers have noticed that she has really grown in confidence, in sharing about her identity and faith." - Ni-Cola Scott, Children Changing Places Project Team
The project team includes three Chaplaincy Assistants, who are based within secondary schools, as part of the Bishop Fraser Trust. Each Chaplaincy Assistant works alongside the School Chaplain in developing and growing a range of opportunities for young people to engage in Christian worship and discipleship activities.
Parish Youth Groups
In addition to their role in secondary schools, each Chaplaincy Assistant has been assigned a parish placement. The aim of the placement is to provide support to the parish youth team, in growing the parish youth work. Since the start of the project, 7 new parish youth groups have been launched in Bolton Deanery.
You can follow the work of the team on Twitter @PlacesProject
Contact details for staff can be found in the Diocesan Directory
We spoke with Ni-cola Jackson, Deanery Children’s and Families Worker as part of the Children’s Changing Places Project, about the power of the Shades Project and "A Million Colours".
We are delighted to share the news that the bid for further funding has been approved. The funding will pay for staffing and other costs associated with a project of this scale.