THE number of churches, chapels, and
meeting houses applying to the National Churches Trust (NCT) for
funding has doubled in a year.
The annual report shows that, in 2011,
the charity, which supports places of worship in need of repair or
improvements, received 618 applications for grants, compared with
309 in 2010.
It awarded or recommended 170 funding
grants totalling £1,549,279, an increase on the 123 individual
grants awarded in 2010. The average grant was £11,000 compared to
£5000 in the years before 2010. Most of the grants were for "urgent
and essential structural repair projects", and 83 per cent
were awarded to Anglican churches. Cornerstone grants, worth
£40,000 each, totalled £320,000.
Claire Walker, the NCT chief executive,
said that the costs of urgent repairs could "rarely be paid for by
the church congregation alone", and that the Trust expected
continued high levels of demand.
"The poor condition of some places of
worship is demonstrated by the fact that we regularly receive
requests for repair grants from churches where the congregation
have to worship surrounded by buckets set out to catch rainwater
falling through the roof," she said.
The publication of the report coincided
with the announcement of a new chairman, Luke March, a lay canon at
Salisbury Cathedral. He succeeds Michael Hoare.
Writing in the report, Mr Hoare expresses
sadness that the trust was "only able to fund a minority of those
who come to us for money, despite the value of many such
The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd
Nicholas Holtam, writes that,
in addition to "sustaining faith", churches brought a "wide range
of benefits" as "places where communities are being built, the
vulnerable supported, and our society sustained and
The trust's national survey last year
estimated that nearly 80 per cent of the UK's church buildings were
also used for purposes other than regular worship, such as
providing nursery and playgroup education, homeless shelters, or
employment or addiction counselling.