National Churches Trust: Have your say to help church buildings in Northern Ireland

Posted On: 
9th March 2018

Many church buildings in Northern Ireland need financial support and advice to ensure they are kept in good repair and that their architectural heritage can be safeguarded for future generations, says the National Churches Trust. 

Now, a new project wants to hear from people who look after church buildings of all Christian traditions in Northern Ireland to make sure that support and advice can be better provided in the future.

The project is being organised by the National Churches Trust with the Ulster Historic Churches Trust and is funded by the Department for Communities.

How to have your say

There are two ways that people who look after church buildings can contribute to the project.

The first is to complete an online survey to tell the project organisers about the challenges faced by people looking after a church building, including what support is needed and how it could be best provided.  The survey can be completed online at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/NIchurches and must be completed by Sunday 25 March 2018.

The second is to register to be part of a focus group. Anyone who looks after a church building can take part in a focus group which is being held on two dates in central Belfast: Thursday 22nd March 2018 from 4.00pm-6.30pm and Thursday 23rd March 2018 from 4.30pm-6.30pm.

The focus group will provide expert advice on managing a successful capital building project at a place of worship.

It will also provide the chance for participants to discuss a wide range of topics, including:

  • How to raise funds and grants to tackle major repairs.
  • Procurement and project management from the point of view of heritage professionals
  • How to find funders and access grants
  • How to avoid the need for costly major repairs by effective building  maintenance.

You can register for a place at a focus group by emailing Alison Pollard at alison.pollard@nationalchurchestrust.org

Alison Pollard, Head of Regional Development for the National Churches Trust said:

“Government, faith and heritage bodies are working together in Northern Ireland to bring greater support to volunteers across all Christian traditions who look after church buildings. We want to make it easier for churches to access funding and other valuable resources. “

“We want to hear about the needs of volunteers and staff at churches throughout Northern Ireland. Their input will directly help and influence the Department for Communities and a growing group of faith and heritage organisations in developing better help for churches. The result will be that Northern Ireland’s heritage of church buildings will be better safeguarded for the future.”

The National Churches Trust is organising this event alongside the Ulster Historic Churches Trust and we are grateful for funding provided by the Department for Communities.“

Iain Greenway Director of the Historic Environment Division at the Department for Communities said:

We are pleased to support this initiative through our Historic Environment Fund. Church buildings are a vital part our historic environment, important to the communities in which they stand as well as to those who worship in them. “

“We recognise the funding challenges faced by congregations as they seek to maintain their buildings, and believe that this work is a very important step in building capacity to support this work. We therefore encourage church bodies and communities to participate in this research.”

The National Churches Trust in Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Maintenance Scheme, provided by the Ulster Historic Churches Trust, in partnership with the National Churches Trust, offers micro-grants of up to £650 to help churches in Northern Ireland carry out minor repairs. 

Thomas Street Methodist Church in Portadown, which was awarded the first micro grant in 2017, completed repairs to its slate roof thanks to funding from the Northern Ireland Maintenance Scheme in January 2018.

Churches in Northern Ireland can also apply to the National Churches Trust’s Maintenance Grant Scheme as well its Northern Ireland Partnership Grant Scheme.

Full details can be found at www.nationalchurchestrust.org/grants or for information please email grants@nationalchurchestrust.org