Leyland Playscheme was founded in 1974 with the intention of not only providing fun activities for younger children of South Ribble and the surrounding areas; but also to provide young adults the chance to give something back to the community. Back in 1974 it was an incredibly ambitious project that was the brainchild of Jim Green, at that time a youth worker for Lancashire County Council. Jim, along with his colleague Mike Voelker convinced his superiors that it would be a good idea and the scheme had the potential to truly change lives. He worked hard and the first scheme was born based at West Paddock Youth Centre. Jim was right, it truly did change lives and from that small acorn grew the enormous scheme we see today. It’s a testament to Jim’s tenacity, and stubbornness from time to time, that the scheme endured countless obstacles and is fondly remembered by the many thousands of lives it has touched.
Jim dedicated his life to youth work, working with young people in Wigan prior to moving to Leyland and it is with a great deal of sadness that Jim passed away in 2004 after battling with illness for quite some time. His legacy does indeed live on in the scheme he put together and built 40 years ago. Each year awards are given to those volunteers who stand out as a shining example of the ethos of the scheme. Two of these awards are named after the founders of the Playscheme, The Jim Green Award and the Mike Voelker Award.
To this day it’s aims remain the same and it is unique in its organisation and character still using similar systems to those devised and honed over 40 years. It is rare in today’s society to see evidence of such a large scale feeling of community spirit and volunteering from a wide cross-section of the community; any ‘Playschemer’ will tell you of the ‘Playscheme feeling’ that really is unique and can only be experienced by being part of the scheme.