Church restores building to reach out to local community

Church Growth Trust understand the idiosyncrasies of churches. That it wasn’t really about the building but about our mission for the centre and what we wanted to achieve for the community.

A popular church in Warwickshire has renovated a community building in the heart of a deprived area – thanks to help from Church Growth Trust (CGT).

Myton Church in Warwick meets in a school, which restricts the activities they can run during the week. They spotted a building owned by Warwick District Council, and with help from CGT renovated the space to open Westbury Community Centre.

It’s now a busy hub with a community café, youth groups, foodbank, English classes and debt counselling services all on offer. Foundations spoke to church administrator Pearl Pawson about the experience.

Top Tips

  • If you share services to your building with other organisations, meet together regularly and keep communications open.
  • Don’t rush the process – make sure you only do what you need to do.
  • Get professional help when you need it – the legal requirements for public use properties are so different to domestic properties.
  • Tailor your applications to the grant-maker, don’t use a generic application for everyone.
How did the process of renovating start?

After dreaming big about the project we started to break it down into manageable lists. We were very fortunate to have a project manager who worked for a big hotel chain in our church and he took on the project for us, working with architects and quantity surveyors. Unfortunately, his job moved him to Germany before we were finished and we weren’t sure how we were going to do it. Then someone mentioned Church Growth Trust.

How did Church Growth Trust help you?

I wish we had known about them from the start, they could have saved us so much time and money. They came in late in the process, looked at everything we had already done and helped us manage the rest of the process. Gill Pedler was a God-send.

Renovation process

Because we were getting our funding from grants, there were all sorts of restrictions and time limits. There was a lot of juggling to get everything done and we hired a specialist to handle the grant side of the project. There were a lot of 12 convoluted spreadsheets!

What is Westbury Community Centre used for?

There’s around 1000 homes in the immediate area with residents with diverse needs. We want to make sure we’re providing what the whole community wants and we were very fortunate that a Community Partnership Team Manager from the Warwick District Council had recently done a survey in the area and received strong feedback that services for younger children, like toddler groups, were lacking. There was nothing for children until they reached 10 and could start attending the youth clubs. So we are starting a toddler group in April.

We run two youth groups and our neighbours, the Warwickshire Association of Youth Clubs, run youth clubs too. We also work with foodbank, debt counselling through CAP (Christians Against Poverty) and ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes.

Gill Pedler, Architect from Church Growth Trust, added: “Generally things went very smoothly with this project. I made regular site visits to make sure the works were in line with the contract. The contractor was very helpful and went out of their way to give the client a good quality building within budget and on time. The client was thrilled with the end result!

“Our advice to churches planning a building project of any scale would be to agree the works in as much detail as possible at an early stage, then when you obtain prices from contractors, ask them how long they can hold that price for and when they might be able to carry out the works. This will help you to programme the works in to suit your funding.”

Foundation Spring 2017