progress update . . .
St. Thomas' is a beautiful Grade II listed building, reflecting the largesse of those who originally built the church. However the parish is currently among the 2% most deprived parishes in the country.
Work on multiple changes to the church building to enable the community to make greater use of the building is nearly complete.
The changes involve:
- replacing the seating with stackable chairs; and a few stackable pews;
- replacing the church heating with a modern, efficient, working system;
- providing an access ramp for people in wheelchairs and buggies;
- upgrading the toilet so that it can be used by those in wheelchairs, and with baby changing; and
- putting a kitchen into the North side-aisle.
All permissions are in place to proceed with the project.
After the work is complete, the Church will, of course, be open for worship as usual - but in a warmer and more flexible space.
The total cost of the entire project is £308,000.
This sounds a lot, but we can reclaim £50,000 in V.A.T; church members have made generous donations and we have been awarded a number of grants (see below).
Allowing for money still to be raised through the Mayor's appeal, we have now raised enough money to complete phases 1 and 2 below - i.e. the fabric alterations, but not the seating.
Sadly, DRY ROT has now been discovered in the North transept. We wait to see how much this will cost to treat.
Work on the church building is due to be finished in February 2019.
As well as members of St. Thomas' congregation, past and present, we are grateful to the following for their support so far (those marked * awarded more than two grants over the last few years):
£ 91,844 - Viridor Credits
£ 19,000 - Diocese of Manchester
£ 9,875 - Growing Oldham: Feeding Ambition
£ 8,000 - Oldham Mayoral Charities (2018-19)
£ 5,250 - Allchurches Trust*
£ 4,000 - Beatrice Laing Trust
£ 2,300 - Oldham MBC*
£ 1,200 - Duchy of Lancaster Benevolent Fund*
We have been careful to ensure that the most significant elements of the building are not affected by the changes. So, for example, we intend to remove the pews, which came from another church, and were only installed in the early 1970s. We intend to put a kitchen in the N. side aisle, but we are going to be careful not to obscure any of the stained glass windows. The wonderful sanctuary, windows, porch, and baptistery will not be affected.
We were pleased to hear that Historic England had no objection to our plans, given the recent installation of the pews, they were satisfied that our alterations would not adversely affect the special historical character of the building.
From the parent forum of St. Thomas
CE Primary School: This idea [of making the church into a Multipurpose Community Centre] will help bring people from different backgrounds and cultures together to learn, exercise, talk and meet new people by having various classes including cooking, sewing and yoga etc. . . . Many other ideas have been discussed such as ICT, Reading and English classes which can benefit the whole community. Other programmes which are to do with health e.g. to reduce Cholesterol, depression, feeling alone and diabetes through exercise or by diet . . . These ideas have been outlined by parents from the local area.
I would like to make new friends and join children sports clubs.
People in our community will become more united.
I think this is a brilliant idea. Having a community centre would be great for all.
I'm interested in doing courses which will enable me to get a job. I would love to be able to make new friends too. This is a great idea.
I support the application as there are insufficient local venues for people to acess for activities without incurring great cost, given available income.
We really need a new heating system.
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We hope that these changes will improve the fabric of the building, and preserve the beauty of its heritage. However, we also hope that the changes will enable the church building better to become a place of learning, growth and support for all people, whatever their age, culture, or religious affiliation - offering accredited courses as well as informal activities for families and children.
We aim to work with St. Thomas Werneth CE Primary School in delivering some of these services. However what we offer to the community will not be limited to those associated with that school, but will be for everyone.
As a church we want to be the catalyst for enabling a range of different activities that help all members of the local community to reach their full potential.
These changes will breathe new life into the worshipping community and also the wider community, as we seek to fulfil part of our Christian mission: working for justice, and ensuring that all are able to flourish - in our community and beyond.
We seek to create a "mixed economy" around St. Thomas', and indeed St. Paul's church as well, initiating some activity ourselves, but also playing host to partners who are also seeking the good of the community.
How to leave the tiles nice - they don't fit together well, as they are.
The kitchen is coming together.
Discovery of Dry Rot is a problem.
The Ramp is nearly finished.
- Turning part of the church grounds into an Community Orchard, working in partnership with an organisation like The Orchard Project
- Ideas from the St. Thomas Parent's Group: parents and baby/young children drop in; toy library exchange; use of outside area for swings and slides; adult classes; show case different cultures through coffee mornings; cake making; cookery classes; healthy eating; sharing recipes from all cultures; offering lunches for older people in community; volunteer training for all languages; Maths and English classes; Summer School; Open Day before changes happen in Church; Religious Festivals; Sewing; Photography; ICT; Internet needed; Theory driving test; Job Club; COGS; Saturday School; Intense English Courses; Community Champions
A place to bring community together.
I think its a good idea so children have activiites to do over the holidays.
I would like to attend English Classses and learn how to drive.
I will get to make new freinds
Brilliant idea for the community, will turn out well.
St. Thomas' is a proven community asset. Further development would support them doing more.