St Thomas' Church, Lancaster, is beginning a major ‘Heart of the City’ building project to house a new Family Life Centre supporting those in need in Lancaster and the surrounding area.
Lancaster City Council gave planning permission for the project to go ahead over the summer. The congregation had already pledged £1.86m towards the total cost, but the church still needed another £700,000 to make the project happen.
This shortfall has just been boosted by a grant of £40,000 from Allchurches Trust, one of the UK's largest grant-making charities.
In 2016, St Thomas' celebrated its 175th Anniversary. The time was right to consider a new, purpose-built church centre.
This development has been named the ‘Heart of the City Project’. The church cost just £1,200 when it was originally built (about £85,000 in today’s money), so there was a collective sharp intake of breath by the congregation when the cost estimate for the new centre, plus essential repairs to the main church, came in at £2.6 million.
The plan for the new centre is to offer a much greater level of support to the community in Lancaster, and its vulnerable members, at a time when this is needed more than ever.
The flexible, multi-use community building will house a cross-disciplinary ‘Family Life Centre’, bringing together health, education, counselling/listening and financial services; as well as providing early intervention social support for families under pressure.
The services offered by the centre will be offered to any family in need, regardless of religion, ethnicity, orientation, etc and with no strings attached.
Some rooms in the centre will be available for hire by local organisations. The centre will be available for community activities six days a week, while on Sundays it will be used for church activities currently attended by about 100 children each week.
The Family Life Centre will house multiple services and make use of good practice and key partnerships which are developing nationally. The core activities are expected to include the following:
The Centre will employ a part-time Parish Nurse and a part-time Manager.
St Thomas’ church is now contemplating how they can meet the financial shortfall required to see the project through to fruition. The congregation have been working on their own fundraising initiatives and have raised over £25,000 from a variety of events including sponsored walks, afternoon teas, an auction of promises and many other novel activities.
The Allchurches Trust grant of £40,000 will make a significant difference towards helping the church meet the shortfall in its financial goal. Allchurches gave more than £16 million to churches, charities and communities in 2018. Its funds come from its ownership of Ecclesiastical Insurance Group.
Jon Scamman, vicar of St Thomas' church, Lancaster, said “We are so grateful to Allchurches Trust for their generous grant. Our Heart of the City project is a sign of our commitment as a church to the future health and well-being of the City of Lancaster. This significant grant will help us bring that commitment to reality, with building work starting next year.”
Peter Mojsa, Grants Officer at Allchurches Trust, added: “St Thomas' church has a long history of providing support and social action in Lancaster and we were delighted to support this ambitious project that will provide a lifeline to some of the most isolated people in the community. The new building will give the church the space to grow and develop their children and family work, house their family centre and provide flexible space for groups to meet that is accessible to all.”
St Thomas' church’s fundraising still continues and anyone interested in donating, or finding out about forthcoming events, can find more information on the website (www.st.tees.org.uk) or via the Heart of the City Facebook page (www.facebook.com/StTeesHeartOfTheCity/) or Twitter account (www.twitter.com/StTsHOTC).
Posted by Ronnie Semley, 13/11/2019