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Rolling up your sleeves

02 November 2006


We have received our updated Quinquennial report, and it is clearly time to address some serious repairs to our church. It is listed, but only Grade-II. Can you advise us on how to get going?

BEGIN by identifying from the report a big area of work that could be identified as a single project. Employ a quantity surveyor to give you an indicative budget for this piece of work. He or she will need to work on this with your architect. (Do not be tempted to ask your architect for the budget.) Ask your architect to give a one-page summary of the work to accompany the budget.

The Joint Repair Scheme of English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery fund is the biggest source of outside funding for church repairs. Significant additional funding comes from trusts such as Historic Churches Preservation Trust, and the Garfield Weston Foundation. Then there are county trusts and landfill-tax grants in some places.

With the report, the description of the selected project, and the indicative budget, you are now ready to apply to the Joint Scheme. The forms and guidelines are available through the English Heritage website. Grade-I and -II* churches should apply by the end of June; Grade-II churches by the end of September.

The odds are very good that most churches that apply will get a significant (i.e. more than 50 per cent) contribution towards the cost of the work. The response will take about six months from those dates. Other outside fund-raising should wait till after English Heritage responds, as its involvement increases the chance other trusts will contribute.

Don't waste the intervening six months. Use the summer for local fundraising with social and cultural events. These will raise the profile of the church and its needs. Use the time also to research local and national trusts that may contribute. Most are now accessible on the internet. Researchers for repairs to listed buildings can use either the www. churchcare.co.uk website or www. ffhb.org.uk; the latter is the web address for Funds for Historic Buildings. Or you could use my book, The UK Church Fundraising Handbook.

When you hear that you have been awarded a Joint Scheme grant, meet the architect and surveyor, as well as the Vicar and churchwardens, and go through the conditions of the grant in line-by-line detail, ensuring everyone knows what they are doing and by when. (Each year several churches lose their grants by not complying with these conditions.)

The architect will push forward the design work, gain a faculty, and prepare to go to tender, consulting English Heritage. The PCC will have to approve various principles and understand its part in the work.

Last, but not least, you will have at this point just one year to raise all the remaining money for the project in order to take up the Joint Scheme offer within the contractual conditions. Being systematic and meeting regularly to check progress will help.

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