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Story 63 - 'Yarn - Bombing'

Devonport Community Baptist Church
Written by Revd Michael Shaw - 24/11/2020

Marlborough Street in Devonport, is not a high street you would travel to. It is a mixture of take-aways, charity shops, bric-a-brac house clearance shops, an Iceland and a few assorted corner shops, even before the doctor's surgery moved, it was never a hive of activity. But when the surgery did move, the footfall dropped even further, and the shops that did try to offer something different, a deli and a small grocer, struggled and closed.
MA Story63Picture1
Devonport is one of the most deprived areas in the south-west of England, tucked away in the most south-western corner of Plymouth. For many people in Devonport, with little access to money and no opportunity to travel even by bus, Marlborough Street is the only place they can go. The area needed something to liven it up a bit.
MA Story63Picture2Running through, the now pedestrianised road, were a number of planters, full of weeds and junk. We wondered whether we could do something to brighten the place up, to make it somewhere people who came to the road could feel a sense of hope.
Firstly, we started to yarn bomb the area, although not many of us are knitters, we covered the sad looking trees in wool and bunting. People from other local churches supplied knitted squares which we stitched together and sowed into blankets for the trees. We decorated the trees with Christmas decorations, at Easter we hung patches of fabric with the words, “hope” spelt out on them.
MA Story63Picture3More recently we have started weeding the planters, and replanting, getting rid of the cans, bottles, crisp packets (and other things) that are thrown in them (despite bins being everywhere along the road). Local businesses have started to donate plants for us to use in the planters.
When we go and start clearing, businesses have offered us free drinks and food. People have stopped to ask who we are and what we are doing (in a positive way). One time a lady saw what we were doing, went home fetched a pair of gloves and started clearing with us!
Another time my wife was tiding up the bunting, and removing some weathered material and someone from the flats above shouted at her, ‘Hey, what are you doing?! You can’t just take that stuff, the church people put it up’, we told her that we were part of the church and she thanked us for all we are doing.
Some people have asked if we can be more obvious, can we write “Jesus love's you” in wool, or hand out tracts. But we have always resisted. People on the street know we are from the church; they do not need us giving them a trite message.  We think by doing what we do, giving our time and energy we are showing people that Jesus loves them. Have any of them walked through the doors of our church, not yet. But we are in this for the long haul, not short wins.
We are not a rich church, we do not have lots of people, we are not very good at knitting and know next to nothing about gardening, but hopefully people have been blessed by what we are doing and know that even though everyone else has forgotten about this little corner of our city, God hasn’t!

 
 
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