Spike in demand for church repair grants
Published 22 September 2012
The National Churches Trust is reporting a huge increase in the number of places of worship seeking financial assistance for repairs and modernisation.
According to latest figures from the trust, the number of churches, chapels and meeting houses applying to the charity for funding has doubled.
The trust received 618 applications for grants in 2011, compared with 309 in the previous year.
In 2011, the trust awarded or recommended 170 funding grants totalling £1,549,279, up from the 123 individual grants awarded in 2010.
Claire Walker, Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust said: “Places of worship help so many people with their lives and are a vital part of the social fabric of the country.
“The increase in demand for grants to the National Churches Trust shows a growing need for funding to help the UK’s churches, chapels and meeting houses continue to serve their congregations and improve the way they can help the wider community.”
The trust’s national survey, published in 2011, put the average cost of urgent repairs to church buildings at £80,000.
“These costs can rarely be paid for by the church congregation alone,” said Ms Walker.
“As a result, the National Churches Trust anticipates that over the next few years there will continue to be high level of demand for funding and assistance for church repairs and modernisation."
She said that in one case the condition of the place of worship was so bad that the congregation was worshipping surrounded by buckets set up to catch rainwater dripping through the roof.
Common problems faced by churches include crumbling stonework and deteriorating woodwork.
Funding from the trust has also helped churches update their facilities with cafes, accessible toilets and environmentally friendly heating.
“In this age of austerity, the closure of facilities such as libraries and community centres means that in some parts of the country, places of worship are becoming the last place where local organisations and people can hire a room to meet either for free or at an affordable price," Ms Walker explained.
Places of worship which received funding from the National Churches Trust in 2011 and showcased in the Annual Review include:
St James in the City, Toxteth, Liverpool
Built in 1774–75, St James had been closed for worship since 1974 and was on the Buildings at Risk register due to its semi-derelict state. A National Churches Trust £40,000 Cornerstone Grant has helped fund extensive renovation to the roof to make the church watertight and to enable the church to play a major part in the regeneration of the Toxteth area.
St Augustine, Ramsgate, Kent
A Grade I listed building, St Augustine’s Catholic Church was designed by Augustus Pugin, one of the great British architects of the 19th century. A National Churches Trust £40,000 Cornerstone Grant was awarded to help pay for urgent repair items including the repair of roof coverings, valley gutters and drainage pipes and to address the problems associated with water penetration and rot.
St John the Evangelist, Shobdon, Herefordshire
St John the Evangelist Church in Shobdon is a hugely important work of architecture. It has a direct connection to Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill villa in Twickenham and the members of the ‘Committee of Taste’ which strongly influenced its design. The National Churches Trust awarded a £10,000 Repair Grant to contributing to a 10 year campaign to help fund vital repair work.
Shettleston New Church of Scotland, Glasgow
Shettleston New Church of Scotland was constituted in 2007 by the union of the two congregations of Eastbank and Carntyne Old. The foundation stone of the church was laid on 11 October 1902. The church is situated in a deprived area of Glasgow with, in 2010, an average life expectancy of 66. The National Churches Trust awarded a £20,000 Community Grant to help fund the Lighthouse Project to make the church fully accessible to all people in the church and the community.
St Arvan, Monmouthshire, Wales
St Arvan’s Church, near Chepstow, is a scheduled ancient monument and a Grade II listed building. The National Churches Trust awarded a £10,000 Repair Grant to help fund a £200,000 complete re-roof of the whole church using new natural slate.
Stockland Green Methodist Church, Birmingham
Built in 1906, Stockland Green Methodist Church hall boasts superb Rennie Mackintosh style stained glass windows which were installed when the church was built. The National Churches Trust awarded a £10,000 Community Grant to help fund the building of a Community Café and kitchen.
Memorial Community Church, Plaistow, London
Originally known as Plaistow Memorial Baptist Church, the building was designed by William Hayne and opened in 1922 to house the church and its welfare work. The National Churches Trust £20,000 Community Grant helped fund a range of improvements including new toilets at the back of the building and improved access for people with disabilities or parents pushing buggies to take part in activities held there.
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