AN INTERNET service designed to help historic churches in England and Wales keep on top of essential maintenance has been launched this week.
The service MaintenanceBooker (www.maintenancebooker.org.uk) enables churches to find reliable professional help at competitive rates who can carry out routine maintenance tasks which, it is hoped, will reduce the prospect of expensive repairs.
Using the website, work such as gutter clearance and repairs, tree surveys and maintenance, lightning protection inspection, and asbestos surveys and removal can be arranged. Later this year, the service is scheduled to expand to include stonework and lime mortaring; bat surveys and grounds and graveyard maintenance are planned for the future. It can also help to obtain Preventative Maintenance Micro-Grants towards the cost of some of the work.
The scheme went live this week in northern England, the Midlands, and Wales, and will be available throughout the rest of England from 3 September.
“I believe that MaintenanceBooker will make it easier to keep church buildings in good repair,” the director of the Cathedral and Church Buildings Division, Becky Clark, said. “Maintaining your church building is the bedrock of keeping it open and able to be enjoyed.
“Simple tasks like keeping gutters and drains clear, identifying problems with trees, and properly maintaining them and ensuring that stonework is well looked after will help prevent unexpected large repair bills.”
The scheme was set up by the UK’s church-building support charity the National Churches Trust, and 2buy2, the national buying group for UK charities, schools, and churches, after a successful Heritage Lottery-funded pilot project in Yorkshire.
The service is backed by Ecclesiastical Insurance, the Pilgrim Trust, and the Church in Wales. The church operations director for Ecclesiastical, Michael Angell, said: “We are very pleased to be able to sponsor this service, which will help make sure that those maintaining some of our most irreplaceable buildings have the right experience and skills to do so.
“Without proper maintenance, churches may face more serious repair problems, and, in some cases, this could lead to temporary closures. Churches are community buildings, used by many different organisations and groups; so the closure of these buildings, for even just a few weeks, can have devastating consequences for the wider community.”
The group 2buy2 was founded in 2008 by its chief executive, Rob Kissick, a former national procurement officer for the Church of England, to offer a professional procurement service. “Every company registered on MaintenanceBooker is vetted to ensure it has the appropriate qualifications — critical for all church repairs. The new website will save money and ensure that work is carried out by qualified individuals,” Mr Kissick said.