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Successful grant applications

Take a look at some examples of successful grant applications recently awarded by the Methodist Insurance Grant Giving Committee.

  • Horbury Methodist Church

     
    Amount awarded £50,000. 

    Building for the future  

    After five years of worshipping without a building, the congregation of Horbury Methodist Church now has a beautiful new spiritual home.  

    The village of Horbury in West Yorkshire has historic links with Methodism, and John Wesley himself occasionally preached here. There were originally two Methodist chapels in the village, but by the twenty-first century only one remained, and it needed significant structural improvement. Having been built on clay, it was unstable and masonry was falling from the walls. After much discussion with the council, the consensus was that the church had to be rebuilt.  

    The building was demolished in 2012, and the congregation started fundraising in earnest to raise the funds to build a new home. Worship in the meantime took place in the church hall. “It wasn’t ideal,” says John Sudworth, Development Co-ordinator, “There was just one room, and that had to house the crèche, young people, worshippers and community groups.”  

    A new chapel takes shape 

    Following extensive fundraising, the building work started in September 2015. The congregation had to vacate the site completely, worshipping in a community centre half a mile or so away. When people at the community centre saw the warmth and fellowship, a number of them began attending the services and joining in with the activities too! 

    The new church slowly took shape, with separate rooms that could be used for worship and other functions, along with a corridor to make access easier.  

    The church was in a conservation area and materials were specialist and expensive. Methodist Insurance Fund was very pleased to be able to support this exciting project, awarding the church a grant. “It’s been an immense help,” says John, “They really helped us keep our heads above water.” 

    The resulting development is benefiting the congregation and the community alike. A number of community groups use the facilities, including dancing groups, karate clubs and historical societies. “People even say it has enhanced the look of the high street,” says John, “And it’s certainly encouraged more people to join us in worship or to use the space.”
  • Touchstone building bridges and community

     
    Amount awarded: £15,000

    A new premises has been found for Touchstone, an organisation in Bradford that encourages different faiths to come together. 

    The new building offers an improved space for activities to be set up, and provides additional facilities to enable more community projects and initiatives.   

    Team Leader at Touchstone, Barbara Glasson, recognised that it was time for the move: “The new building offers plenty of space for Touchstone’s work to grow and for creative partnerships with Abigail Housing and Beacon Bradford to flourish. It will also offer conference facilities, a counselling service and a beautiful quiet room.” 

    For more than 25 years, Touchstone has been helping to build a community in Bradford, making a positive difference to inter-faith relations, not only in Bradford but also regionally and nationally in and outside the Methodist Church. The grant from Methodist Insurance Fund has helped support Touchstone, and contributed towards enabling them to effectively refurbish a local bar into a new home for them. The new building has also recognised the need to be more environmentally friendly, having included photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof and LED lighting throughout. 

    The organisation offers a space for people to listen and communicate with each other and gives the opportunity to find common ground between the various religions within the community. 

    Touchstone works closely with women and offers activities for them including, “Weaving Women’s Wisdom” and “Baking a Difference”. This opens up conversation about different faiths and the traditions that they follow, allowing the community to learn about each other. 
  • Stamford Methodist Church

     

    Amount awarded £1,300.


    A new project to tackle local food waste spurred Stamford Methodist Church to apply for a grant.


    The project called Second Helpings is the brainchild of a member of the church. Volunteers collect surplus food from shops, farms, restaurants and hotels, and use it to cook lunch at the church every Saturday.


    Up to 50 people eat lunch each week, making a small cash donation if they can afford it.


    The project quickly became a real success story because it proved a great way of bringing people together and reaching out to those in need, but there was one problem, says assistant treasurer Roger Ing.


    “We needed a place to store the food collected overnight before it was prepared. The obvious place was the church’s basement cellar, which at the time was a bit of a dumping ground.”


    It was clear that quite a bit of money would need spending on it so the church set about raising the funds.


    Roger says: “We successfully applied for a £1,300 grant from Methodist Insurance towards the work which involved repairing the 130-year-old stone walls and installing a ventilated dry lining system to combat any future damp before applying a breathable lime render. We also had to remove some asbestos around some heating pipes.”


    The upgraded cellar at the church in in Stamford, Lincolnshire, is now complete. Food is stored in three-quarters of the space with the rest allocated for general church storage.


    Roger says: “It has meant that we’ve solved a problem of having a cellar not being used and deteriorating over the years by putting it to use for both for Second Helpings and the church.”

  • Broadway Hill, Ilminster

     

    Amount awarded £750.


    The installation of ‘push to open’ automatic double doors has helped transform access at Broadway Hill Methodist Church.


    The church in Somerset applied for a grant towards the cost of installing the glass doors between the reception and the worship area as part of a larger refurbishment project to make the building accessible to all.


    Access between the two areas was a big issue explains church steward and secretary Sue Parsons.


    “Many of our users have mobility needs and we wanted to offer our facilities to other groups including a local organisation for disabled people and a Parkinson’s support group”.


    “We had relatively level flooring, parking immediately outside so people with disabilities or families could park easily, and an indoor ramp between two areas of the church, but the existing double doors made accessibility difficult.”


    “We regularly saw the challenges people in wheelchairs, using walkers or sticks or pushchairs, faced getting through them and we had to ask people to park mobility scooters outside the worship area”.


    Installing automatic double doors that people can open with a push pad gives people greater independence, dignity and even improves their sense of wellbeing, says Sue.


    She adds: “We received a £750 grant towards the doors and it helped make all the difference. The doors are a key part of the fundamental changes we have made to the church. Together, they now offer our users a comprehensive welcome.”

  • Salem Methodist Church

     

    Amount awarded £650.


    The removal of choir pews and extension of the dais has created much needed space at the Salem Methodist Church.


    Located in Watley’s End in the village of Winterbourne near Bristol, it’s one of the oldest Methodist churches in the area.


    John Welsey, one of the founders of Methodism, laid the church’s foundation stone and even preached there.


    Fortunately, despite its historic past, the church is not subject to any conservation orders making the project much easier to implement, says Reverend Pearl Luxon.


    The idea was to alter and extend the dais by taking out choir pews, the first row of congregation pews and moving the communion rail.


    Pearl says: “We didn’t know what we would uncover when we altered the dais. In fact, we found incredible amounts of woodworm, so we would have to have done some work at some point anyway.


    “The condition of the wood meant we weren’t able to use as much of it to create additional wall panelling as we would have liked. Instead, we had to use new wood and stain it.


    “We also had to fumigate the area, replace microphone cables, move piping and some radiators, so it ended up being quite a big job.”


    Pearl says: “We received a £650 grant from Methodist Insurance towards the work and the church looks absolutely beautiful now.


    “There’s so much more flexible space that we can use for all-age worship, communion and community events. We’ve also added a new preacher’s lectern for people who are unable to use our traditional pulpit either for health reasons, or because they prefer to be nearer to the congregation.”

  • Four Oaks Methodist Church

     
    Amount awarded: £50,000

    Excitement is building as work on Four Oaks Methodist Church in Birmingham is due to complete in June this year. Undeterred by the challenges of a Grade II listed building, Peter Johansen, Chairman of the Finance Committee, explains that the project directly supports the church’s mission. “We have a high proportion of elderly people who worship in the church or visit as part of our many outreach activities. The changes we’re making will make life much easier for them and will allow us to further our outreach, such as supporting dementia care.”

    A key driver of the project is to support the church’s work tackling social isolation, a multifaceted issue, impacting both the elderly and the young. Peter explains that when the church was built, the old layout featured small classrooms. The renovation project paves the way for bigger rooms that are flexible in how they are used and will be more welcoming across all age groups and backgrounds. Despite the restrictions on changes to a listed building, the church has gone to great lengths to make it suitable, particularly for people with visual or hearing impairments. Each of the meeting rooms will have audio visual facilities and hearing aid loops, and work to make the building more tactile for the visually impaired is also being considered.

    Explaining the importance of the Methodist Insurance grant, Peter explains: “£50,000 was critical to the fundraising effort. In total, we’ve had to raise £500,000 and to get a tenth of this was very significant. We could not let the contract proceed without this funding.”
  • Hall Green United Methodist Church

     
    Amount awarded: £50,000

    At its heart, Hall Green United Methodist Church is a community church which aims to support and improve its local area. The church is located in a diverse ethnic area in Birmingham and welcomes people of all faiths and backgrounds. The layout of the church and accompanying hall had been in place for over 90 years. Realising the potential to truly become a focal point for the community, the church needed to undergo a major renovation programme to open up the space, and remove access restrictions such as steps to the ground floor level.

    Val Dickens, Chair of the Building Strategy Group, is pleased with the progress of the renovation programme. “Because we have a large hall which runs parallel to the sanctuary, they are separate buildings, so we have made an opening in the sanctuary to create a foyer linking them both. This dramatically improves access from the middle of the building and is a really useful link between the two. We’ve also completely redecorated the sanctuary walls and ceilings and have made good the plasterwork.”

    Val emphasises the importance of the space being used well and being available to the whole community. Citing the work done within the vestry, Val explains that this space now accommodates emergency exits and a practical communion preparation area. With the wider community in mind, one of the porch areas has been blocked off and turned into a small meeting room which will be useful both for pastoral work within the church and as a place for counselling, when needed.

    Hall Green Methodist Church is nearing completion on this major renovation project with the total works costing in excess of £800,000. Referencing the £50,000 grant provided to the church by Methodist Insurance, Val explains the importance of the grant. “To receive £50,000 as a grant was a vital part of the fundraising effort. Receiving it gave us the confidence to go ahead with the tendering process and enabled us to move the project forward.”

    Encapsulating what this work will achieve for the community around Hall Green Methodist Church, Val believes that the church has managed to re-organise the premises so that they offer better value to people visiting and worshipping. This has always been a busy church that offers a wide range of care and social activities. With the renovation nearing completion, Hall Green Methodist Church can now provide an even better service to the wider community.
  • Kempston East Methodist Church

     
    Amount awarded: £2,800

    Kempston East Methodist Church, built in 1904, describes itself as a church where everyone is welcome. The church reaches out to the community in Bedford through numerous activities including cinema nights and concerts. Good lighting for these activities and for worship is vital. The church faced high costs and maintenance time servicing old tungsten filament lamps which were becoming increasingly difficult to find, and needed to be replaced with energy efficient lighting to adhere to EU regulations. The fundraising effort to upgrade the lighting system was led by property chairman Michael Stephenson and property committee member Jane Mayhew, who raised the £27,000 to cover the lighting project costs. The church received a grant of £2,800 from Methodist Insurance.

    Explaining the impact of the project, which was completed in March this year, Jane says: “Since installing the new LED lighting, our running costs have come down by 80% and there is little or no maintenance needed. The lights should last about 14 years or over 50,000 hours.” The project was carried out by specialist contractors experienced in church and cathedral lighting. “The lighting units are smaller and less obtrusive and fit well with the fabric of our building. They really create the right kind of ambience for our concerts and for worship,” Jane adds.
  • Haxby and Wiggington Methodist Church

     
    Amount awarded: £50,000

    Building for the future  

    The villages of Haxby and Wigginton were at one time, separate. However, over the years, housing development across the two villages has seen them merge to become one small and welcoming community.

    Built in 1879, Haxby & Wigginton Methodist Church caters to the needs of all different types of people and ages. A wide range of groups use the Church, and the Church wanted to ensure they could cater for community activities, as well as making it a more welcoming place for the whole community.

    From a Monday morning pre-school accommodating over 100 children to Thursday lunches for older people within the community, the Church sees over 30,000 people relying on the use of their premises every year. To continue to sufficiently welcome and be able to cater for this range of people, the Church recognised the need to create a new and welcoming hub to give easy access to everyone. Rosemary Cox, Fundraising Team Leader said, “Narrow corridors and numerous doors hampered the flow of people through the rooms at the back and a good sized meeting room also served as a corridor. There were insufficient meeting rooms for all our activities. We wanted a building fully accessible to all throughout.”

    Opening new doors

    An architect was employed to draw up plans, and after a year of consultation and reflection amongst the Church and its community, the Church successfully applied for City of York planning permission.

    Agreements were made to build a new front porch and side entrance to enable easy access for wheelchair users, along with general improved access across both the ground and first floor.

    Two brand new rooms were built on the first floor to accommodate medium and small groups, with some larger rooms on the ground floor to accommodate large and medium groups. During the week, the coffee shop is a popular meeting place, so improving the drinks making facilities was also an important part of the renovation project, enabling the church to welcome those who could otherwise be isolated and lonely.

Methodist Insurance Fund  
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