Tackling Church Repairs – Meeting the Challenge
A church’s list of repairs in an architect’s report can seem overwhelming. How can we do all of that and what comes first? And where will we find the money? There are many good reasons to be confident about and celebrate our churches, which can in turn increase support from communities and funders. St Michael and all Angels, Shefford, (see below) has recently succeeded at obtaining Heritage Lottery development funding for the project to restore their 14th century tower, currently scaffold-clad because of poor repairs in the 1980s, which allowed moisture retention behind rendering on the tower, causing some of it to fall. An initial £19,300 has been granted for project development, before they apply for a full grant of £220,900.
A workshop for parishes, ‘Tackling Church Repairs,’ at the end of March in Linslade drew about 60 delegates from all over the diocese and aimed to give some answers to these questions and also help churches to unlock funding from sources such as the Heritage Lottery Fund, just like St Michael’s.
Bruce Deacon, a church architect talked about how a sensible, incremental, approach with works carried out over a number of years could achieve good results. Advice was given on how to select and work with your professional adviser and how to plan and organise your repairs project. The church surveyor and parish members from St Mary’s, Baldock described how they had successfully found Lottery and local funding and managed restoration works, along with some of the lessons learnt along the way.
Eleanor Stead, Legacy and Funding Officer, Church of England, said that highlighting ‘the people in the church’, their needs and how they would benefit was key to making a great case for funding support. Advice was given on Heritage Lottery Fund grants for churches and community heritage and what successful project applications needed to deliver funding.
The diocesan team ran through the support it offers to parishes and how all its staff work to fit together the requirements and timing of consents, grants and repairs. The team encourages parishes to talk to and learn from each other. To encourage that, parishes which had come up with the best local fundraising ideas at the workshop were given Real Easter Eggs: Fairtrade chocolate Easter Eggs with the Easter story.
Feedback on the workshop has been very positive with people valuing both the talks and the conversations in between. And special praise was rightly given for the fantastic welcome and food at the Community Hall.
See Fundraising and Grants for advice and where you can get help. Information from the workshop including most of the presentations will be added here.
BREAKING NEWS: Successful Heritage Lottery Fund Bid
St Michael’s and All Angels is situated in Shefford High Street and is also next to a busy pathway. The church is open 7 days a week and is used by a wide section of the community for a variety of activities. Its historic tower is currently obscured by safety fencing and scaffolding to protect the public. Restoration will give pedestrians safe, unrestricted access to the footpath and greatly enhance the appearance of the church. St Michael’s successfully applied for Heritage Lottery development funding after advice from their surveyor that they should make an application. Their strong local team and support from the Diocesan Advisory Team, including the recently appointed Historic Church Buildings Support Officer, David Bevan, have all helped get them to the development funding stage which is often the major hurdle to overcome.