Caring For God's Acre > Case Studies > Community Involvement > Getting the Whole Community Engaged in Fund Raising & Work Parties

Getting the Whole Community Engaged in Fund Raising & Work Parties


 St Ishmael’s Church, Monkhaven, Haverfordwest, SA62 3ST


‘More people to be involved in physical work in the church and churchyard, to help raise money and to bring particular skills’.

Step 1

We run a series of fund raising events over the year, including:

  • A Pet Service on Rogation Sunday
  • A Carol Party involving singing a few carols, sharing a drink and some food then singing more carols
  • An annual Craft Festival
  • A Snowdrop Tea which takes place every other year. In 2015, 100 people came and this raised about £500.
  • A Silent Auction which also takes place every other year
  • A Potato Challenge which takes place every other year

Participants are given a seed potato and bucket (for £5 entry fee) and then have 12 weeks to see what they can grow! They then come back together to have their potatoes judged and there are several awards – most potatoes, largest potato, ugliest potato etc. The judging event also involves refreshments, a raffle and other fund raising initiatives. In 2014, 1000 people entered and the Challenge raised between £700 and £800.

Step 2

Partly through fundraising events and in other ways the management group have made lots of contacts over the past few years and now have a group of local volunteers, the majority of whom aren’t churchgoers. At a recent work party 10 people came, 3 of whom are regular churchgoers.

Step 3

The group have also extended links with local interest organisations including:

  • The Coastlands History Group, which covers the whole peninsula and brings several small communities together (St Ishmael’s, Hasguard, Robeston West, Dale, St Brides and Marloes).
  • A local gardening club.

There are now about 20 regular volunteers helping in the churchyard. On average 10 will attend a work party which take place on weekdays and weekends so as not to exclude anyone.

Step 4

There is a parish magazine which was started by the vicar – Peninsula Papers – this has been very successful and is now fully funded by advertising and has extended beyond church news to become a community magazine with a wide range of events and topics within it. It is delivered for free to all the houses within 4 parishes. This helps to further encourage involvement from the whole community and integration between the parishes.

Step 5

The churchyard is mainly managed as long grass with close mown paths through it. Management is by strimming only as the ground is too steep for mowing and the site looks cared for and well managed with grass cuttings raked up and removed off site to peoples’ green bins or compost heaps.

Costs and Income

In 2014 the group raised a total of £X through donations, activities and competitions

Because of the high numbers of volunteers and the system of management (long grass with paths) the P.C.C. do not have to pay at all for mowing. This is a sheltered, warm place where grass often grows year round. Short grass usually needs mowing fortnightly for 9 months of the year and monthly for 3 months. Other similar sized nearby churchyards are paying £50 per cut, giving a total of £1,050. People bring their own tools and so the P.C.C. do not need to buy mowers or strimmers.

The P.C.C pay for a tree surgeon to make an annual report and carry out necessary tree works.

Results and Benefits

By managing to involve so many people the work is spread and feels manageable. This extends to the organisers as well as the other volunteers at a work party. There are 3 or 4 key people who coordinate work and volunteers and only 1 of them needs to be there on a particular day. This makes the whole task less onerous and people more likely to wish to be involved.

St Ishmael’s is within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and the community officer NAME (Richard who is it who has helped you? What is her name and post?) has become involved with the churchyard and has brought local school children out on site to learn and help and also volunteers from the Prince’s Trust.

Although the church is not within the village it is on a path between the village and the sea, and many local people including children pass that way regularly going down to the beach. This helps to engender a feeling of involvement and ownership within the whole community.

Issues and Lessons Learnt

Running events biannually is a good idea; people do not become fatigued and are more likely to join in again and again. The Snowdrop Tea and Potato Challenge alternate annually. It is a good idea to try new things although a recent duck race failed because the ducks all turned upside down in the fast flowing stream!

Conclusions and Next Steps

The P.C.C would like more money as they are starting to have safety issues with some monuments. They would also like to involve more younger people.

A grant might be helpful for both of these and it would be really helpful if the diocese supplied up to date information on grants. There is a possibility of looking at funding across the 4 parishes and of further working together.

Further Information

View the St Ishmael’s Plant List here: St Ishmaels – Plant list

View the full St Ishamael’s Survey here: St Ishmaels – Survey CFGA

Caring for God’s Acre Action Pack Sheets:

Section D sheet 1       Involving Volunteers

Section D sheet 2       Health and Safety

Section D sheet 5       Applying for Grants

Heritage Lottery Fund: Sharing Heritage (grants between £3,000 and £10,000)

Grants for Places of Worship (does not include churchyards)