In your column on Heritage Lottery Fund repair grants
(31 January), you did not mention the new
"outcomes for people" element that applicants are expected to
outline and deliver. This is a massive change, and we fear that
this element is the reason why urban churches seem to be successful
in gaining grants, and why the scheme does not recognise our rural
ALMOST all grants from all sources are about people, and the
benefits that a project will bring to them. The only variant that
springs to mind is the Friends of Friendless Churches - although I
expect that even those churches have visitors.
I suspect that, just as in its previous manifestation as the
Joint Repair Scheme, the Heritage Lottery Fund has a system for
prioritising who gets a grant in any round of grant-giving. Every
project will have to show some heritage activity, as that is
fundamental to the Heritage Lottery Fund mission.
Once that has been shown, however, the fundamental criterion is
the urgency of the works included in the repair project. The nearer
the building has got to any kind of structural failure, water
ingress, or loss of heritage material, the higher up the list it
goes. Then, when the grants begin to be handed out, the grant
assessors begin from the top of the list, and make grants until
they run out of money. You may have come lower on the list, but the
letter from the Heritage Lottery Fund probably advised you.
Disregarding the heritage activity for a moment, if you were
turned down as less urgent, then I suggest that you reapply: more
urgent projects than yours will have disappeared, and your works
will now be more urgent as a result of the wind and weather.
The heritage activities on the application form are less of an
issue. Think of the many people in your village who bought a
lottery ticket, and thus contributed to the repair grant - you now
have a chance to give them a benefit in return.
The Repair Grants offer you the opportunity to include a sum of
money to initiate or support heritage activities. This grant can
include a session with a heritage expert, who can advise you on a
suitable small project. This couldbe as simple as an information
leaflet for school visits, a handbook for local people, or an event
that tells people what is happening.
Maybe the stonemason who is repairing the tower can explain his
work; or the archaeologist who is "watching" the groundworks or
floor replacement can give a talk, with photographs.
The Heritage Lottery Fund is interested in heritage activity
appropriate to the organisation, not in asking for hard-pressed
churchwardens to be overburdened with unfamiliar activity. Help is
The Heritage Lottery Fund has some friendly staff who, once you
have done your preliminary application, are available by phone, or
at a meeting, to give you advice, and could help you get this
I also suspect that big urban churches are better at making abig
noise about having received a grant offer than the smaller village
churches who are quietly getting on with the work.
Send issues and questions to