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Repairing and Developing your Church

Repairs

The majority of the churches in our diocese are medieval and these do not react well to modern building materials such as cement and emulsion paint. It is therefore important to use the correct materials and methods for a repair and ideally employ an architect or surveyor with relevant experience.

Your architect /surveyor should produce a specification and schedule of works which describes the repair and details the materials to be used. The DAC will want to see this. It is likely the archdeacon will be able to authorise the repair without the need for a faculty but the paperwork will have to be seen by a DAC representative. Please allow four weeks for this process. Downloads to help are listed below.


Improvements

Churches do develop over time and they need to change to accommodate new needs or liturgical practice. However, PCCs need to make the case for such changes and this is done through the production of a Statement of Needs and a Statement of Significance.

The DAC may wish to visit the church to discuss your plans in the context of the building. Draft Statements are useful tools to prepare the DAC for the visit. The DAC may want other organisations to be part of the visit as they will have a say in allowing the works to proceed. Groups such as Historic England, the SPAB, the Victorian Society and the national Church Buildings Council won’t attend a site visit until they have seen your draft Statements.


The following sections give greater detail on funding and maintenance. 

  • Funding-+

    When it comes to raising funds for your church buildings – whether it’s for urgent repairs, installation of toilets and kitchens, a re-ordering for a more community-friendly space, or conserving historic treasures, this section will guide you through your first steps.


    Getting started

    Who do you contact first? Below is a list of funders under useful headings to get you started. Once you get your first bag of money to jingle, it will help you attract other funders.


    Your strategy

    Aspirations, needs, priorities, outcomes. All this ‘grant-speak’ can be daunting but you’ll soon get the hang of it. Take a look at the checklist below from the leader of a highly successful project in a modestly-sized church within a small village to help you focus on your own scheme. 


    Apply early

    Funders such as the National Churches Trust like to see projects in their planning stages. Potential partners and funders will want to see a professional business plan for your project and your Statement of Significance is a good starting point.


    Who can help?

    Only a handful of funders can help with your particular project. That’s because each has strict criteria – usually found on their website. If you can’t match their requirements, it’s time to move on. You can view helpful presentations from the National Churches Trust and Suffolk Historic Churches Trust. They can help with both grants and advice on other funders. There’s also a list of contacts to help you locate other funders. Make sure you also know who’s who in the diocesan office when it comes to planning and funding projects.


    Church fundraising

    When raising funds from your own resources, the obvious place to start is with your Friends Group. Don’t have one? The National Churches Trust has a downloadable resources pack is approved by the Charity Commission.

  • Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)-+

    If you have urgent repairs, your bells are in need of restoration, or a wall painting needs to be conserved, then the Heritage Lottery Fund is a good place to start. Equally, if you want to launch a learning project or celebrate the anniversary of a famous figure linked to your church, there’s an HLF programme that can help. 


    Which programme?

    You can view a presentation by Kate Brown of the Heritage Lottery Fund and download the summary below of HLF programmes to get you started. The key word is ‘heritage’ and you need to be able to share it with more and a wider group of people.


    Repair grants

    The Grants for Places of Worship programme is all about reading the Application Guidance and following it step-by-step. You’ll need to harness the skills of anyone in the community who can help, whether or not they are a PCC or congregation member. Don’t forget you are ‘sharing heritage’! The East of England office in Cambridge is staffed by helpful people who can advise you how to proceed over the telephone 01223 224870 or by email on eastofengland@hlf.org.uk.


    Help with outcomes

    You may have all your specs and costings in place but if you skimp on the ‘outcomes’ specified by the HLF you will be unlikely to succeed. Many churches are unsure about what activities they can manage that will engage ‘more people and a wider range of people’ with heritage.

  • Maintaining Your Church-+

    Churches are stout and simple and little can go wrong as long as you clean out gutters, downpipes and gullies. Regular maintenance can prevent costly repairs but sometimes past mistakes have to be remedied and major projects undertaken.


    Who can help?

    The Faith in Maintenance scheme of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings tells you all you need to know from understanding an historic church building to working with professionals and health and safety.


    Health and safety

    If compliance with health and safety rules keeps you awake at night, Ecclesiastical Insurance has reassuring videos and downloadable guides to help you


    Extra help

    The Churchcare website offers help with caring for your building from quinquennial inspections and insurance to churchyards and archaeology. There’s an excellent Calendar of Care with a helpful checklist for every month of the year.

    The Building Conservation website is a mine of information and you can search for building materials and practices.


    Regular maintenance  

    A regular scheme can bring peace of mind on gutter clearance and other minor works and can minimise costs.

    The Elix scheme is operated by the Diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, in partnership with MY Group and subsidised by Suffolk Historic Churches Trust. Elix 2 has been launched for the five years from 2014/15 to 2018/19 at an annual cost of £350 + vat fixed for the five-year period. Download the Elix brochure for more details or contact James Halsall or Charlotte Hodgson on 01473 298533.


Online faculty portal

Applications for faculties can be made using the online faculty portal. All supporting documents can be uploaded and regular emails inform you of your case's process through the system. Once registered you can apply for all future applications electronically.


Emergencies

If an emergency repair is necessary then please contact your Archdeacon or the DAC Secretary.