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Social hub lifts community
27-05-2014 | It's been two years since Zion was resurrected as a vibrant hub in the Bedminster community in Bristol. From a cosy cafe and art classes to a monthly food market and lego-mornings for kids, Zion Bristol is back at the heart of the local community, welcoming people of all ages.
“Here people come together and talk to each other. That strengthens relationships and improves the quality of life”.
Jess Wright, founder of community space Zion in Bristol.
The former Methodist church lies in the heart of Bedminster Down and has served the community for over 125 years. But six year ago the dwindling congregation could no longer provide for the upkeep of the building and the bells rang their last service. The chapel was left in danger of neglect and becoming derelict.
It was local designer and events organizer Jess Wright who spotted the potential of this remarkable building with its rosette stain glass window. She single handedly pulled together funding and set up a social enterprise to not only give the building a second lease of life but also to help revive the local community.
'Zion is the only social hub in this part of Bristol. Here people come together and talk to each other. That strengthens relationships and improves the quality of life', says founder and owner Jess Wright.
The former church has two floors and was built in 1890. The original benches, pulpit and well intact stained glass have been left untouched and serve to preserve this church's rich history. Work from local artists adorns the walls and there is a small shop and a cafe.
'I've went to this church when I was little. Now I have three children and I come here about once a week meeting up with other local parents. Since the opening of the cafe two years ago we have met a lot of new people', says Tim Clarke.
Recently Zion has opened the 'Deli on the Down'. This new kitchen and small, but well stocked deli are now providing local delicatessen from pies and chocolate to fresh bread and cakes.
But it's not always easy to establish a social outlet in an area deprived from social activities for years. 'Sometimes I wake up in the morning and money is tight, I wonder why on earth did I take this on? But when I see people coming through the door smiling, that's what makes it all worth while', explains Jess.
The cheer passion and determination of Jess Wright has created a truly sociable place for all ages. Zion does not only serve the community lovely treats and local produced food, it also provides the community with a unique space to enrich a healthy social life.
This project has been enabled by the help of Triodos Bank financial support.