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Churches queue up for lavatory grants from trust

10 October 2014

the gentle author

Flush with cash: the lavatory at Wesley's Chapel, City Road, in London, dating from 1899 - one of 81 to receive funds this year from the National Churches Trust

Flush with cash: the lavatory at Wesley's Chapel, City Road, in London, dating from 1899 - one of 81 to receive funds this year from the National Ch...

REQUESTS for grants to install lavatories and repair roofs top the list of applications approved by the National Churches Trust, its annual review for 2013-2014 reports.

And, while they might seem the most mundane, they are vital in ensuring that churches continue their good work, the Trust's chief executive, Claire Walker, said.

"Toilets can help churches, chapels, and meeting houses survive," she said. "Toilets allow churches to become more welcoming to worshippers, especially those with young children, and to people attending weddings or christenings. They are also essential for churches wanting to increase use by the wider local community: for example, by hosting playgroups, local clubs, or charities, and events such as concerts."

The 139 grants, totalling £1,557,000, awarded or recommended by the Trust during 2013, included cash for 81 lavatories and 162 roof repairs.

"Churches, chapels, and meeting houses are full of history, but the people looking after them know that buildings can't be stuck in the past," Ms Walker said. "Many of these buildings have adapted and changed over the decades and centuries. Installing modern facilities, such as toilets and kitchens, and improving access are essential to increasing their use and safeguarding their future.

"Churches are at the heart of their communities, and bring people together in a way that makes life better. So it is crucial to keep churches repaired. If a church roof leaks, then the building gets damaged, and you get a bigger problem. That's why, in 2013, we continued to help churches become wind- and watertight, with roof repairs topping the list of requests made to our Repair and Cornerstone Grant programmes. These programmes funded urgent work at some of the UK's most beautiful and historically significant churches."

"The amount of funding required by churches, chapels, and meeting houses in the United Kingdom for repairs and installing modern facilities such as toilets and catering facilities, and improving access, is huge."

This summer, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Tony Baldry, told MPs that the Church of England's 12,500 listed churches alone faced an estimated repair bill of £60 million.

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