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Church competition seeks to boost housing

28 February 2020

CHURCH OF ENGLAND

A homelessness project at St George’s, Stamford

A homelessness project at St George’s, Stamford

CHURCHES could win up to £30,000 to better respond to housing needs in their communities.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on Housing, Church and Community launched the Project Lab competition, on Tuesday, in partnership with the Cinnamon Network. The competition is looking for church projects that are supporting people who are struggling with housing issues. This might be a mentoring and befriending service, advising vulnerable tenants, or mediating with landlords.

Five churches will be shortlisted and invited to an event in July. They will present their projects to a panel of judges. The two winners will each receive a £30,000 development grant. There are also up to five places available on the two-year “Cinnamon Project Incubator”, though which churches will receive support from industry professionals to progress their idea.

A separate competition from the commission, Innovative Built Solutions for Churches, will support “micro-housing” schemes on church land and buildings. Successful applicants will receive advice from specialist housing consultants LivShare Consulting and help to secure funding.

The competition models the work of the church-run Keswick Community Housing Trust, which uses church property to develop affordable homes for people who are being forced out of the community by the rise in holiday properties.

The vice-chairman of the commission, the Bishop of Kensington, Dr Graham Tomlin, said: “Throughout history, churches have provided shelter to those who need it. . . The commission is looking at how churches can respond to housing needs, as well as asking the Government and others to work with us to create real change.”

Sian Edwards, the director of the Andrews Charitable Trust, which is funding Project Lab 2020, said: “Churches have long been associated with street homelessness and soup kitchens, but we applaud the Archbishop’s Housing Commission for supporting projects that will help people find and keep their homes, helping to prevent homelessness in the first place.”

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