St Thomas, Werneth

Parish of St. Thomas, Werneth

Annual Report 2018

Annual Report 2018

Annual Report 2018

Administrative Information

The Church of St. Thomas is situated in St. Thomas' Circle, Werneth, Oldham OL8 1SF. The correspondence address is The Vicarage, 55 Belgrave Road, Oldham OL8 1LU.

The Parochial Church Council (PCC) is a charity excepted from registration with the Charity Commission.

The Parish Bank Account is with National Westminster Bank. The Insurers of the Parish are EIG.

The parish forms part of a United Benefice and Mission Partnership with the parish of St. Paul, Oldham. It is part of a Mission Unit with Holy Trinity, Coldhurst, St Stephen & All Martyrs, Oldham, and Oldham Parish Church.

The Parish

The parish contains a variety of property which includes owner occupier, rented, council houses, apartments and sheltered housing. There are terraced houses, a legacy of the cotton industry, and a mix of semi and detached houses.

New homes have been built in the parish.

With regards to the Index of Multiple Deprivation, the parish straddles 4 LSOAs. A "Lower Super Output Area" is the smallest geographical unit for which demographic data is produced. Oldham 035D is ranked 528, and Oldham O35G is ranked 1,154 out of 32,844 LSOAs across the country. In the 1.6% and 3.5% most deprived, respectively. Both of these LSOAs are within 50 metres walk of the church.

There is a disproportionate mix of religious and ethnic communities in the parish: British, Asian, and Eastern European. The parish is rated as having the highest ethnic diversity (i.e. highest proportion who are not White British) within the Diocese of Manchester at 89%. Many of these are South Asian. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that many people of African origin, and Eastern European are moving into the parish.

There are a number of schools in the Parish: St. Thomas, Werneth (CE), St. Patrick's (RC), Werneth Primay School, as well as Hulme Kindergarten.

Vicar's Report

We have continued to work towards our Mission Action Plan this year, and made some progress towards delivering the objectives that we have set ourselves.

This year, a lot of my energy has gone into the first of these aims: the major project of reordering St. Thomas' Church. The project has had a number of complications and adjustments leading to a delay. This includes including tackling the problem of dry rot, and that of making the building waterproof. Of course, this is work that needed to be done anyway. We are accomplishing a significant renovation of the church building which will set us up for many years to come - and transform our relationship with the local community.

The second aim is about encouraging new people to get involved, and exercise ministry in the church. I am pleased to see that this has indeed taken place. I am delighted and grateful that more people are getting involved in the church's life and ministry - despite the many challenging situations that many members of our congregation face on a daily basis.

I am also delighted that this also applies to the children and young people who attend. It's a pleasure to see up to five now attending on a regular basis. They so obviously relish their Sunday School Activities, and are increasingly taking part creatively on the Second Sunday in the month at our All Age Services.

It has also been exciting to see where our journey with the other parishes in our Mission Unit leads. We are still in the early days of exploring how best we can work together for the good of our congregations and communities, but it is an exciting and encouraging start. I should clarify, because the question has been asked: I am still Vicar of only two parishes in the Mission Unit: St. Paul's and St. Thomas'!

It has been encouraging to see an increase in numbers of people attending church. Despite our frustrations over our building being out of action, the congregation has continued to grow. And continued giving to Missionary Societies and Development Agencies around the world.

Many thanks to you all, for all that you do! (Revd. Nick Andrewes)

PCC Structure & Governance

The method of appointment of PCC members is broadly as set out in the Church Representation Rules, with one exception: Church Wardens may be elected for an unlimited number of consecutive periods of office.

Thus the PCC should currently consist of six elected members, because there are less than 50 on the Electoral Roll: two to be elected each year. In addition, there are ex officio members: 2 Deanery Synod Representatives; 2 Church Wardens, and the Vicar.

All who attend Church are encouraged to register on the Electoral Roll and stand for election to the PCC.

PCC Membership

Vicar: Revd. Nick Andrewes (Chair)
Curate: Revd. Janet Pitman
Church Wardens: vacant vacant
Deanery Synod Reps: Jonathan Shaw Maureen Yarwood
PCC Members: Beverley Hogg  2  Gordon Lees  2  Janet Campbell  2 
Mary Fairhurst  1  Abigail Ogbesusi  1  Hakim Touhidi  1 
Alireza Haidari  0  Taher Rezaei  0  Navid Shirzadegan  0 
PCC Treasurer: Janet Campbell
Safeguarding Officer: Beverley Hogg
Independent Examiner: Keith Witter

PCC Secretary's Report

Just as the year 2017 was an unusual year in the life of the Church, a time of planning and worrying about the future, so we had to face the harsh facts and reality of the situation as we entered the year 2018.

Led by the Vicar, we have been ably guided through all the problems and pitfalls as they occurred during the refit. We were unable to worship in the church during much of the time because of the loss of heating – initially resorting to hot water bottles and blankets – and we finally had to accept the fact that we would need to hold the Sunday services in the Day School. Although somewhat inconvenient, this was successfully achieved with the help and cooperation of the congregation. We are especially grateful for the part played by the Farsi speaking members of our congregation, who have taken upon themselves much responsibility.

As the work has progressed, new problems have come to light which required the attention of the Architect and constant applications for financial assistance and grants. We have been very fortunate in having a Vicar well able to seek out even the most obscure of sources.

Special thanks must be offered to the numerous people who have so readily come forward to give extra help, particularly Janet Pitman our Curate, the sidespersons and Sunday School teachers and our ALM, Jonathan Shaw, who leads services once a month. We have been fortunate to have people to keep us supplied with music in our temporary accommodation – thanks to David Brocklehurst, Beverley Hogg and Nathaniel Pitman and our very limited choir. Matters financial have been very well managed by our Treasurer, Janet Campbell, and we have benefitted from having the expertise of Beryl and Gordon Lees, Judy and Tony Kane and Margaret Taylor, who each work for the congregation in their various capacities.

On the whole it would appear that the year has been successful as we have made a great effort to move forward and achieve our goal: that of becoming more active in the multicultural community and providing good facilities for all concerned.

We offer sincere thanks to all who have contributed and assisted - which will continue well into the future.

PCC Treasurer's Report


The main part of our income is by the envelope scheme and we were £495 down on 2017 and the loose collection up by £74 on 2017.

Gift day was down by £2,623 on 2017. This year on Gift Day we asked for donations towards the re-order or the Parish Share. Only £30 was donated to church funds, the rest to the re-order.

The tax we recovered in 2018 was £666 down on 2017, we can still recover tax on all cash donations as well as gift aided money. Overall our direct giving receipts were down by £4,665 on 2017.


Parish share for 2018 was £6,000 which we paid in full.

Running expenses gas and insurance were up by £535 on 2017. We have still not received any electricity invoices for two and a half years; hopefully this will be resolved soon however we will have an invoice for at least £5,000 due.

Clergy expenses are less than 2017 due to the fact that the vicar did receive a grant. General church expenses were also down. Building maintenance figure is the 10% we paid to Viridor to receive the grant from them.

Re-order payment is obviously for the re-order which covers paying for various things, architect fees, planning permission, Bullens, piano storage, construction project and engineers reports.

The magazine sales made us a surplus of £431. Grateful thanks to the producer of the magazine.

Overall we do finish with a deficit of £3,805; this is of course due to the re-order and moving money round from other accounts.

We did withdraw our investments from the diocese to help pay for the re-order. (Janet Campbell)

2018 Financial Statements

Electoral Roll

A new roll was prepared this year. There are now 39 names of the Parish Electoral Roll. (Michael Albrow)

Church Attendance

Average Sunday morning attendance from October Census for recent years:

MEASURE 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014
aged 16 and over (including baptisms) 36 35 34 37 37
aged 16 and over (who attend less than 12 times per year) 4 5 9 9 6
aged 16 and over (who attend more than 12 times per year) 32 30 25 28 31
aged 16 and under 3 3 3 5 3


St. Thomas' PCC has adopted the House of Bishops Safeguarding Policy ‘Promoting a Safer Church'. This is supplemented by local appendices that relate to our own local needs. These are:

  • Policy Statements for Vulnerable Adults and Children and Young People
  • Safe church policy for Sunday School.

There is a new legal obligation to report Safeguarding Serious Incidents to the Charity Commission.

Copies of all this documentation is available either on the church web site or on request.

For the majority of 2018 we have been meeting in St Thomas’s school. The Sunday School has been using a separate room next to the studio, with suitable, age appropriate and safe furniture and equipment an whilst the Sunday School has been led by Maureen Yarwood there has always been a parent in attendance as well. (Beverley Hogg)

Find out more

Deanery Synod

The Deanery Synod is a meeting of representatives from individual parishes in West Oldham. It is, among other things, a means by which local churches can raise concerns that may need consideration by the Diocese. It is also a means by which they may discuss, and vote on, issues of concern to the diocese and national Church.

Both clergy and lay people from each parish attend. Jonathan Shaw and Maureen Yarwood represented St. Thomas for the laity.

Meetings generally follow the same pattern. The first half is given over to a presentation by a guest speaker, who may be someone with a particular role in the diocese, or someone from a national organisation or charity. After this, we hear from (among others), the budget secretary, inter-faith workers, and any issues raised by individual parishes.

We met three times during 2018. In February we heard from John Fletcher, the founder of Christians Against Poverty. CAP is a highly successful organisation originally set up to help people out of debt. They have since expanded to set up money management courses, job clubs and treatment for some types of addiction. They frequently work in partnership with local churches and are aiming to cover the whole UK by 2021.

We heard reports from inter-faith activities (Rev. James Read) and from the Borough Dean, Rev. Jean Hurlston. Our Vicar, in his capacity as Area Dean, reported on the Deanery’s Mission and Pastoral Committee (DMPC), notably on progress towards a Deanery Mission Action Plan (MAP).

In July the speaker was Rev. Gary Kennedy, lead Chaplain at Royal Oldham Hospital, on the role of the chaplains and volunteers.

The main item of business was to accept the proposed Mission Action Plan with its focus on evangelism for the coming year. We also heard reports from interfaith, the Borough Dean, Diocesan Synod and the DMPC, and the parish share was discussed.

Due to a lack of candidates in the recent postal election, it was necessary to elect members to the Diocesan Synod at this meeting. Our Vicar was elected to represent the clergy.

There was no speaker at the September meeting. Rev Nick Andrewes reported on the Deanery MAP, and there were reports from interfaith, the Borough Dean, General Synod and on the state of the parish share. It was agreed at this meeting to alternate purely business meetings with those that had a guest speaker.

Planned Giving & Gift Aid

St Thomas’ continues to benefit from the Gift Aid scheme.

The number of eligible, regular donors continued to decline during 2018, with the number now standing at 15. We received a considerable boost in Gift Aided donations during our Gift Month last November, though the benefit from that claim would not be received until 2019.

However, we are still able to benefit from the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme, which allows us to aggregate any cash donations under £20 under a single total. These do not have to be from Gift Aiders and can be anonymous.

Therefore in practice we are able to claim for all our envelope and plate collections and most other donations from congregation and visitors.

As a result, we were able to reclaim £4,332.13 during 2018. This compares with £4,997.55 during the previous year.

Thank you to everyone who gives so generously to our Church. If you pay income tax and would like to sign up for Gift Aid, please have a word with me. (Jonathan Shaw)

Social Committee

This year the Social Committee is suspended, pending the completion of the work on the church. (Mary Fairhurst)

Sunday School

There were 4 regular members of Sunday School during the above period. Their ages ranged between 10 and 3 years old.

We did not use an official source of teaching but relied on our own ideas and resources, mostly following the Common Lectionary New Testament readings.

Sunday School sessions comprised Bible stories, prayers, craft, Christian songs and games.

Once again the children enjoyed performing 2 songs at our Christingle service. They also enjoyed showing their work on the 2nd Sunday of the month and taking an active part in worship.

Obviously it was not ideal using the kitchen area in the day school for sessions during the latter part of the year, but I think that we coped reasonably well considering the distractions in that room.

Grateful thanks to Abigail for her support during 2018.

I would ask, once again, for volunteers to come forward to assist in running Sunday School – it is a very rewarding experience.

Anyone interested please speak to Nick or me. (Maureen Yarwood)

Missions Report

Our long standing support for the Children’s Society continues, with home collecting boxes, and the Christmas Carol and Christingle Service.

We have received regular updates from Daniel and Mei Whetam, with Keziah and Kaelyn, serving in South East Asia with Interserve, teaching English (D and M), Housekeeping(M), and giving Christian Experience. We were delighted that they were able to share with us about their work during their home assignment in June, and we made a contribution to their funding.

Word of Life, the Oldham based charity which has been associated with our church from its beginning, engaged in outreach to Muslims, known for Bible Calendars and the Bible correspondence course has had a challenging year. At an extraordinary meeting of the charity in September, the trustee’s for various reasons called for WoL to be wound up, and a motion to that effect was approved by the members present. We are encouraged that the latest word from WoL’s administrator is that it may be possible for the charity to continue in a different form, we await developments.

Harvest gifts of food were given to Lifeshare, a charity working with needy young people in Manchester, and Judith Vickers from Lifeshare spoke of her work.

During the year we have continued to pray for Kimbilio, the Whetams, the Jennings family, Joe and Denny Fleming at the Christian Medical Centre, Vellore, Word of Life and the Salt Cellar. (Michael Albrow)

St. Thomas CE Primary School, Werneth

Rev. Andrewes and Rev. Pitman regularly lead whole school worship. We said goodbye and thankyou to Rev Pitman in December, we have enjoyed her regular contributions to our collective worship. This year we brought Key Stage 2 pupils into church for worship at Easter and Rev. Andrewes led this. It was successful and valued by the whole school community and we intend to extend this to other key Christian festivals next year when the church building is reopened.

The PCC have supported school faithfully sending representatives to sit on our Governing Body.

School and governors have begun to think about moving towards becoming an academy. We have decided that Sola Fide Trust is the Multi academy trust we wish to join. The process will take place from January 2019. School will retain its church school status.

As the works in the church conclude in 2019 we look forward to being able to extend our provision for adult education and our parents and toddlers. This will hopefully strengthen our partnership between St Thomas’ School, church other schools in the community. Mrs Stones already works between us organising classes and events for the community as a whole.

The school's admissions number remains at 60 for Reception aged children and we have a waiting list for all year groups. Our pupil numbers have risen again to 526 pupils including the nursery.

May we thank all at St Thomas’ Church for your continuing support and for the dedicated governors you have elected for us. Please come and visit if you can. (Angela Knowles, Headteacher)

Community Development Manager

This year has been very busy one, with lots going on in both Parishes.

The re-order at St Thomas’ will very soon be complete but the journey seems to have been very long.

I have worked with STRIVE (a community group make up of of Coppice residents) which is still meeting weekly at the school – an important line of communication with the community on the Coppice, and which is really excited about the future of the church and the opening of the community building, which we hope will happen at the celebration on 27th April, with stalls to rent, lots of food stations, dancing, music, arts and crafts and so much more. Please advise myself or Nick if there is anyone you think should be formally invited.

If you know anyone who would like to rent a stall for £15 to sell anything but food and drinks please let me know.

Other activities have included:

  • Working as part of the Mayor’s Charity Committee, raising money for the five chosen charities (which includes the fund to reorder St. Thomas’ Church).
  • Working with and supporting the asylum seekers through the range of issues they face. These men and women are a pleasure to work with and support. We all enjoyed attending a 12 week Conflict Resolution Course with the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation, and then going on a weekend in Warrington for a weekend of fun, food, classes and walks. An example of my work has included supporting a young man who gained Refugee Status, employment on an apprenticeship at a local school teaching football, and also setting up his own Football Academy. Another volunteer has now got a job teaching at Oldham College.
  • Teaching an accredited course on Thursday mornings at St. Paul's, training volunteers to teach English at a range of levels. I support them as they gain experience doing so in the lunchtime class, working with asylum seekers, and members of the local community in small groups. A lot of learning takes place, on all sides.
  • Liaising with Chorley Community Education, who will be delivering accredited courses at St. Paul’s and St. Thomas’ from May 2019: English, Maths, ICT, Childcare, Teaching Assistant courses, Interpreter courses etc.
  • Attending training in a range of areas, liaised with a range of agencies, worked on funding applications; arranged the distribution of Christmas toys and jumpers.

In short, I have been working to build relationships between a range of individuals, groups and organisations, hopefully releasing synergies and creating pathways that enable all to better themselves within the extremely deprived and varied communities of Hathershaw and Coppice. (Julie Stones)

Web Page

The website continues to be well-used, ofr administrative purposes. The most popular pages in order are: [1] the home page; [2] the rota page; [3] Registers & Archives; [4] Administration; [5] this Annual Report; [6] Find Us; [7] the Reorder; [8] The Diary; [9] About Us; and [10] Heritage.

Once we are back in church, we will need to get to work on adding information about the range of services we can offer to the community. (Nick Andrewes)

Oldham Community Night Shelter

This year the Oldham Parish Church did a pilot project over two weeks to explore the need of a night shelter. In November St Pauls made a commitment, relying heavily on volunteers from St. Thomas, to be part of the Oldham Community Night Shelter. This will involve St. Paul's Community Room being made available one night a week providing a evening meal, a bed, breakfast and company to an increasing number of homeless men in Oldham. So far over twelve members of St. Thomas Church applied to be volunteers and will attend training in early January in preparation. The night shelter will operate in the cold nights between January and the end of March. (Gina Andrewes)