The Diocese of Leeds is encouraging churches to help shape the future of heritage in the UK, by responding to a Heritage Lottery Fund Survey.
The survey aims to gather views from people across the country, and given the large number of churches that are listed buildings, we are encouraging our parishes to take part.
The Revd Jude Smith, Director of Church Revitalisation, has written about the importance of this, and says: “The Church of England looks after over half of the listed buildings in the country.
“Of course, when we talk about the Church of England, we actually mean small groups of really hard-working volunteers.
“One of the many challenges churches face in balancing mission and building maintenance is funding.
“Several years ago, the dedicated churches grant scheme from the Heritage Lottery was abolished so churches now have to compete with a larger pool of groups.
“Additionally, other objectives and criteria that need to be met by applicants have changed.
“We are aware that this has led to our churches struggling to access these grants, which used to be one of the largest sources available.
“The Fund currently has a consultation out about how they prioritise in the next few years.
“I want to make people aware of this process and encourage you to get involved (including saying if you would never accept lottery funds).
“It’s too easy for the voices of ordinary volunteers to get lost in these processes, and to end up excluded from valuable funding streams.
“There is a short engagement survey (for people “interested in heritage”) that can be found here.
“It should take about ten minutes to complete.
“If you can find time to make your views heard before Monday September 5, this is one way we can make sure that the millions of hours we dedicate to our national heritage is not ignored.”
Lisa McIntyre, Church Buildings and Pastoral Reorganisation Team Leader, is offering the following advice to churches looking to complete the survey: “Even the short survey might be daunting as it expects people responding to have read through the hefty “Strategic Funding Framework” – but don’t worry about reading this in full.
“When asked in the survey about the priorities, something churches might want to voice support for is the “heritage at risk” priority but say that this should really include small grants for repairs which will stop buildings getting into a state that needs costly repairs.
“’Community heritage’ is also a good priority, particularly where grants are available to look after buildings (such as churches) that are already there for the community but might have to shut their doors if they aren’t in good repair and comfortable for welcoming people.
“Grants for conserving existing locally loved heritage features of historic sites are also a welcome part of the ‘community heritage’ category.
“When asked about the objectives for the next ten years, churches might highlight ‘heritage is valued, resilient and sustainable’ as particularly important.
“Repair grants would ensure the historic buildings that are already valued continue to be valued and also have a brighter future by being made more physically resilient.
“The word ‘sustainable’ can mean many things but churches might want to suggest that grants to help fund green energy projects and reduce heat loss in churches will reduce running costs AND be better for long-term sustainability in every sense.
“As a church buildings team, we will be filling in the longer engagement survey (“people working with heritage”), based on our experience of working with you.
“You are very welcome to do that too.”
The deadline for both surveys is Monday, September 5 at midday – click here to go to the surveys.