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Applications double for repair grants

21 September 2012


Grant and groom: an NCT grant of £6500 helped preserve St Mary's, Bampton, in Oxfordshire, the loca­tion for the Downton Abbey wedding

Grant and groom: an NCT grant of £6500 helped preserve St Mary's, Bampton, in Oxfordshire, the loca­tion for the Downton Abbey wedding

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 projects".

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 strength­ened".

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. 




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