I was, until a year or so ago, chairman
of the grants committee of our county trust; and, as I said many
times during my term of office: "We can help with just about
anything you want to do to your church - except pull it down." We
also, in practice, ignored the word "historic" in our title. We
made grants retrospectively, after work had been carried out, and
also up front, helping to meet the cost of all the preliminary
work, such as architect's fees for preparing applications to the
main funding bodies.
THANK you for a timely reminder that there are those out there
already on the side of beleaguered churches. It is timely, in the
context of other information flying around recently on the
The Historic Churches Trusts around the country are extremely
generous towards their local churches, and, as our correspondent
points out, are keen to help in any way to make our churches viable
and sustainable. Some of the trusts are reasonably well endowed,
and can make significant grants. Their correspondents also seem to
be experienced, and may be able to offer you other potentially
fruitful suggestions. Look them up through a search on the
internet, or ask your diocese for information.
In the recent Budget, the Chancellor announced more funds for
the repair of roofs and rainwater goods on church buildings. A
large sum is going straight away on to the current round of bids.
It was clear that, with thousands of bids being submitted, the
already committed funds would not have scratched the surface of the
need. If you have applied, you should have heard by now whether
your bid is going to be met through this initial fund. If you have
been turned down, information will be released telling you how to
apply again when the Scheme reopens for the remaining £15 million,
later this year.
In general, our churches are in better repair than they have
been for decades; the support environment, in the past 20 years,
has helped in that direction. But there is clearly still a way to
Other information on the fund-raising front: many of us are
realising the importance of opening up our buildings up for use by
a wider community. It is a way forward for mission, and for the
sustainability of the buildings.
At least one of the Landfill Communities Fund Trusts has on
record that nearly a quarter of their grant awards have gone
towards community facilities in church buildings. Grants seem to be
diminishing in total, although the amount of competition seems also
to have gone down.
Remember, too, that the provision of a very large, albeit
one-off, fund from central government will take some pressure off
the funds of the Heritage Lottery Fund Grant Scheme for Places of
Worship, and there may, temporarily, be less competition for those
Overall, I would recommend that, if you are turned down in a bid
for money for your church's repairs, you simply reapply in the next
round, updating your material as necessary. After all, your repairs
are now more urgent, and some at least of those perceived as more
urgent than yours are gone from the top of the list.
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