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Independent review calls for greater community use to give

church buildings a sustainable future

The Taylor Review: Sustainability of English Churches and Cathedrals recommends empowering congregations to involve more local people in enjoying and using their churches.

Churches should be opened up for new and different uses by communities to help build a more sustainable future for the buildings, an independent report has recommended.

The Taylor Review: Sustainability of English Churches and Cathedrals says that congregations should be empowered to involve more local people in enjoying, valuing, using and caring for their churches.

The review panel, chaired by Bernard Taylor and made up of representatives from the Church of England and heritage bodies, was set up last year to find new ways to maintain Church of England buildings and look at the potential for different funding models.

A total of 12,200 Church of England churches are listed and since 1999 there has been £2.6 billion invested in repairs and new build projects, with Government and lottery sources providing £810 million of this investment.

Bernard Taylor, Chairman of the English Churches and Cathedrals Sustainability Review, said:

"Church buildings are an important and a much-loved part of our national heritage and form an integral part of our sense of identity and community. However, despite the hard work of many groups and volunteers around the country, they face complex problems of maintenance and repair, and are not always well used and supported.

Increased use and helping communities in their broadest form to see the value and potential of the local church is the key to the church building becoming more self-sustaining and ultimately ensuring its long term survival. The solution must be local and there is no instant solution, but these recommendations represent the next steps towards a more sustainable future for these important buildings."

Heritage Minister John Glen said:

"I welcome this report and want to thank Bernard Taylor and the whole panel for their work. Our church buildings are a major part of our heritage and it is vital that they are cared for and protected. This report has shown how valued these buildings are and how many thousands of volunteers work so hard on their upkeep.

This review is an important first step to building a more sustainable future for thousands of church buildings across the country, and we will look at these recommendations carefully."

The review panel welcomed the work by the Church of England to simplify its processes and make it easier for churches to get consent to share use of their buildings. Guidance is also being prepared by the Church of England to support models of community ownership and responsibility such as the creation of local Trusts and Friends.

The Rt Revd John Inge, Bishop of Worcester and lead bishop on cathedrals and church buildings, said:

"I welcome the findings of this Review. Our 16,000 churches are the jewel in the crown of our built heritage. They exist, as they always have done, to serve their communities. This is seen through daily acts of worship, celebrations of the joys of life and commemorations of its sorrows. They are, though, not just places of worship for their communities: they are social hubs for people of all ages, spaces to offer hospitality and vital services to the vulnerable; churches increasingly are the glue in community life.

I have enormous respect for the millions of volunteers and church workers who through the generations have cared for our churches.

The strategy proposed in this report to support these vital buildings will, I pray, help to protect their fabric and equip them to serve anew in the future.

The Review makes clear how churches and cathedrals are vital community assets in need of support nationally. We look forward to working with funding partners to put the proposals into place."

The review panel highlighted the best practice of many churches and of volunteers around the country, with buildings adapted and used for cafes, playgroups, and in some cases NHS and post office services. The panel said it wants to see more innovation of this kind.

The report can be read here and the DCMS press notice here.


New Fund Launched to Tackle Loneliness (England)

Charities and community groups in England can now apply for a share of close to £9 million aimed at tackling loneliness by building strong social connections and welcoming communities.

The money is from the £11.5 million Building Connections Fund. Almost £9 million will be distributed by the Big Lottery Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, and will support projects already working to prevent or reduce loneliness to increase their impact. Grants of between £30,000 and £100,000 will be available for projects which reach out to people of all ages who feel lonely or isolated, and encourage them to take part in activities, helping them to feel more connected. This could include making the most of community spaces, improving access to transport, using digital technology, or joining up local services to have a bigger reach. The closing date for applications is the 24th August 2018.

There but not there

"There But Not There reminds us of those who served in WW1 and did not return home. I believe that alongside each symbolic figure stands the spectre of five others who did return and found themselves so changed by what they had experienced that life for them and their families would never be the same again. There But Not There stands as a powerful symbol for us to not forget them too."

-Lt Gen Andrew Graham CB CBE, Chairman of Trustees, Combat Stress

The installation of 51 transparent seated military figures in Penshurst Church over Remembrance 2016 lit a touch paper in the psyche of all who saw it. There But Not There aims to place a representative figure of those who were lost into their place of worship, their school, their workplace or wherever their absence was keenly felt.

There But Not There will be the defining centenary commemoration of the end of the 1914-1918 war, installed where the men and women came from across the country, back in the communities they left behind.

This project aims to Commemorate, Educate and Heal

Transparent silhouettes that sit in chairs or benches and full size metal outline Tommies provide a focus for commemorating all who served and sacrificed at Remembrance Services to be held across the country in 2018, the centenary commemoration of the end of the 1914-1918 First World War.

Funding for communities wishing to host a perspex silhouette installation is now available.

Visit the 'Silhouette Funding' page to find out more.

Updated advice from Historic England

Historic England has updated some of its places of worship advice webpages. 

Making changes to places of worship and New and additional uses for places of worship offer advice, guiding principles and sources of further information for those planning to make changes to historic places of worship or who are considering new or additional uses.

Defibrillators in churches

Many churches are installing automated external defibrillators (AED) as their central location means they are often readily accessible.

A cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. A person's chance of survival falls by about 10%* for each minute that passes without defibrillation.

Locating AEDs on a boundary wall means they can be accessed when the church is open or closed. Training on all types of AED and CPR resuscitation is availble from organisations including  St John's Ambulance AEDs give voice commands as soon as the lid is opened so that people with no training can use them.


Sustainable churches

Churches can now work with community and commercial bodies to ensure a Christian presence remains in the community and the building is open, sustainable and relevant to those it serves.

St Michael and All Angels is a Grade II* Norman church in Herefordshire. In 2008 it was closed for worship as the roof had become unsafe.  Grants were secured to make teh building safe and it is now working to install a bakery that supplies local companies. The church will be open for regular worship and quiet contemplative, flexible community space with the advantage of an income stream to sustain and support both building and mission.





Card Readers for Churches

Parishes within the Church of England and the Church in Wales are now able to buy card readers at a discount through the Parish Buying website and use them with specially negotiated low transaction rates.

Following the national trial of contactless card readers which was undertaken last year, the Parish Buying service has developed contracts with two companies: SumUp and iZettle;  parishes within the Church of England and the Church in Wales are now able to buy card readers at a discount through the Parish Buying website and use them with specially negotiated low transaction rates. The rationale behind the card reader scheme is:

As many people no longer carry cash it’s becoming increasingly important to provide other ways for people to give. One solution is getting a card reader for your church, which works alongside a smart phone or tablet.

Whether it’s using the Chip and PIN function or the tap of a contactless card, a card reader enables a modern way for people to pay for:  wedding fees; church hall hire; concert tickets; donations; church weekends away; and ‘even teas and coffees.

Information about the equipment needed and the fees involved is included in the FAQs produced by Parish Resources, which also includes some helpful hints.

Tree Surveys

Conservation Foundation are making a map of mature elm trees. 

If you know of a Great British Elm and want to include it on the map, click here for more detail.

Log your ancient churchyard yew trees here and add images of them to the yew tree section of Explore Churches here


Church of England Environment News

Church of England Environmental newsletter:

  • Includes plastic free churches
  • Free wild seed kits
  • Parish Buying latest
  • Setting up a clothes recycling bank
  • Dates for your diary and events