UK Supplier

Every Godly Play item is hand crafted and finished

Saint Michael’s Workshop, Bowthorpe

Saint Michael’s Workshop, Bowthorpe

Saint Michael’s Workshop in Bowthorpe, Norwich, has a team of dedicated people manufacturing the materials used in Godly Play. 

The Workshop is the approved supplier of Godly Play materials in the UK. There is a close working relationship between staff at St Michael’s Workshop and Godly Play UK trainers, to ensure that products are of the high quality needed in Godly Play. The Workshop is a supplier approved by the Godly Play Foundation.

Every Godly Play item is handcrafted and finished.

Every Godly Play item is handcrafted and finished.

St Michael’s Workshop supplies Godly Play materials across the UK and right around the world.

Saint Michael’s Workshop was established in 1984 as part of the Bowthorpe Community Trust. The role of the Workshop is to help people with learning difficulties and physical disadvantages to developing their full potential. Working with wood, fostering social skills and encouraging creative and therapeutic activities which form the basis of each week.

Among the trainees are people with Downs syndrome, those with autistic traits, others with learning difficulties, those who are registered blind, needing a wheelchair or prone to seizures. They attend for between one and four days each week, giving a unique mix of people on each day.

Social contacts are rich and varied. Interaction between staff, trainees and our valued volunteer helpers form a natural part of the daily routine

Bowthorpe Community Trust is a registered charity (no. 114704)9. Half the Trustees are appointed by Bowthorpe Church, which is an Ecumenical Partnership seeking to serve the local community.

You can look at these and order materials on their website.

01603 746106

Saint Michael’s Workshop
Bowthorpe Hall Road

Suppliers of Godly Play materials elsewhere in the world

Germany – Lindenwerkstaetten

Like St Michael’s, the workshop in Leipzig provides employment for people with disabilities. Goods are shipped with an invoice. Bank charges for currency conversion and money transfer need to be taken into account.

USA – Godly Play Resources

Godly Play Resources in Kansas is the supplier of Godly Play materials in the USA, and ships throughout the world.  Goods imported into the UK from the USA are liable to any or all of these taxes: customs duty, excise duty, import VAT. It is wise to check with HMRC before ordering.

Latvia — Valter’s Latvian workshop

“All Godly Play resources are produced ethically. The raw materials are carefully sourced so that they are of the required quality and are safe for children to handle”

Why we support St Michael’s Workshop

Godly Play in the UK has had a partnership with St Michael’s Workshop from the very beginning. When Godly Play first came to the UK we set about finding a way to make materials available to people. With the approval of Jerome Berryman, a small workshop close to Bowthorpe Church in Norwich developed the skills and capacity to become the producers of the resources in the UK. This was a careful process, with regular consultation to ensure that the required quality was developed. Once everything was satisfactory, the workshop received approval as one of the official suppliers of Godly Play materials.

In order to support the Bowthorpe workshop, and in order to ensure that the supply of Godly Play materials in the UK is secure, the two charities, Godly Play UK and the Bowthorpe Community Trust created a memorandum of understanding to ensure mutual flourishing. This was brokered by and received approval from the international Godly Play Foundation, who hold the copyright on the design of all the materials.

The Bowthorpe workshop is a small charity, established by Bowthorpe Church, to provide training and support for adults with a variety of physical and learning disabilities. Some of their trainees have Down’s Syndrome, some have severe epilepsy, some are autistic, one has been blind from birth. They travel in from quite a distance and come on different days for different periods of time. Their attendance depends to some extent on the funding available to them for their placements. In recent times, as the benefits system has changed, this funding has become increasingly problematical: for example, people who once came in a taxi now often are not funded for that. Few of the trainees could travel unsupported on a bus. Some can now only attend because their elderly parents bring them. But they all love coming; they love the work they do and they love the fact that it is valued and treasured by those who buy and use it.

The trainees are supported by a very small team of able-bodied paid staff. A vital member of staff is a highly skilled and experienced cabinet maker, who can create the really complex pieces, such as the Jerusalem Temple, Noah’s Ark, the Synagogue and the Upper Room, which the trainees can then paint or sand and oil. Other staff work with the trainees to support the work they do, and of course, there is a tiny admin team, whose role includes not only the admin of production and delivery but also the complex and demanding task of liaising with the government funding agencies and local authority departments responsible for the support of each trainee. This becomes increasingly complicated as public funds diminish. None of the trainees is a paid employee, as their funding comes from personal independence payments (PIPs), though of course the tiny paid staff body is employed.

All Godly Play resources are produced ethically. The raw materials are carefully sourced so that they are of the required quality and are safe for children to handle. Bought-in items are sourced from ethical settings, so for example, the olive wood holy family sets come from traditional Palestinian woodworkers in Bethlehem, living behind the separation wall. Where artwork has been commissioned, the artists have been fairly remunerated.

All the items are bespoke and hand made. This is not cheap. The agreement with the Godly Play Foundation, who hold the copyright, means that high quality must be maintained so that the workshop retains its licence. In fact, the parent body, the Godly Play Foundation, are delighted with what is produced, but they are fiercely protective of their copyright.

Godly Play UK, through our trainers and our publications, including our Facebook group posts, seek at all times to uphold the spirit and letter of our carefully drawn-up and mediated Memorandum of Understanding with the Bowthorpe Community Trust who are our partners in resourcing and developing Godly Play in the UK. We are proud that the production of Godly Play resources is undertaken by an essentially marginalised group of people who can be so proud of what they offer to the wider world.

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