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Britain supports government backing for maintaining churches

News   •   Feb 16, 2017 16:25 GMT

Recent poll highlights importance of churches as Brits encourage government backing to maintain UK’s heritage.

According to a recent ComRes poll commissioned by the National Churches Trust, 57% of Britons believe that the government should keep providing financial support for churches in order to preserve them, with 83% believing churches and other places of worship are an important part of the UK’s heritage.

Nearly half (49%) said that the places of worship should also be used as community centres as well as places for religious observance.

Only 9% of Britons didn’t think churches had any important benefits to the UK at all.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport recently released the English Churches and Cathedrals Sustainability Review, which looks at the best way to finance historic churches and cathedrals, and also assesses how they can be opened up for community use.

Luke March DL, Chairman of the National Churches Trust said: “The UK’s 42,000 church buildings represent a tremendous national asset much loved by the public… However, the costs of keeping historic churches in good repair and installing modern facilities is simply beyond the reach of most congregations.”

“With 57% of British adults backing government financial support for church buildings, I hope that government funding will continue to be made available to protect the heritage and history of churches.”

“In good repair and with the right facilities to allow greater community use, church buildings, chapels and meeting houses can continue to play a vital role in the life and well-being of the nation for many, many years to come.”

Last year, the National Churches Trust received £90,100 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the Yorkshire Maintenance Project.

The funding is helping churches and chapels in Yorkshire to be kept in good condition and prevent them from needing serious repairs, thanks to £90,100 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HFL) for the Yorkshire Maintenance project.

The National Churches Trust, the UK’s church repair and support charity, has lead the Yorkshire Maintenance Project. Partners in the project include SPAB, Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA), and the Dioceses of Sheffield and York to pilot systems for the maintenance scheme in Yorkshire. The project will also work with the Roman Catholic Church and the Methodist Church in Yorkshire.

The use of drone surveys of churches and training workshops to help volunteers has been useful in helping maintain church buildings. The ‘Maintenance Booker’, a website launched in November 2016, allows churches of all denominations to book gutter clearances and other urgent maintenance tasks identified, and a also a key part of the project.

In Yorkshire, there are 1,095 listed places of worship, including 346 Grade I churches, buildings of the highest heritage significance. The cost of keeping historic churches in good repair and installing more modern facilities is often beyond the reach of many congregations, putting their future at risk with more significant repairs later down the line which are unaffordable.

Michael Murray, Director of Church Support at the National Churches Trust said. “Regular maintenance is essential for churches. Something as simple as keeping drains and gutters clear so that water is taken away from the building efficiently is the most important thing a church can do to stop small problems developing into unnecessary crises. An overflowing gutter soon soaks the wall beneath, rots the roof timbers behind it and makes the whole building vulnerable. As well as keeping a church building in good repair, preventative maintenance saves money as it has been estimated that every £1 spent on keeping a church in good condition saves £30 in repair costs within five years.”

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