Unitarian Meeting House, Ipswich

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Unitarian Meeting House, Ipswich © Historic England

Taylor Review Pilot Update July 2019

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Pilot progress

The members of the Taylor Review Pilot Team have made good progress in both regions since our last update in April. In total, the Team has been in contact with over 350 places of worship and visited over 160.

On 21 May 2019, the project team met with a number of key stakeholders to provide an update on the progress that has been made and the lessons we have learned.

A summary of the progress reported and the notes from this event are available below.

Pilot Team

Karen Heverin and Thomas Küpper, our Fabric Support Officers, have been working with places of worship to plan regular maintenance, and also to support those people applying for the Minor Repairs Grant. Applications for the Minor Repairs Grant will close in September and all those intending to apply are encouraged to speak to their local Fabric Support Officers about their final submission dates.

Thomas Küpper, current Fabric Support Officer in Suffolk, is moving on from his role with us on Friday 16 August. We’re sorry to see Tom go and very grateful for everything he has contributed to the pilot. Tom leaves an excellent project legacy, having worked incredibly hard since the start of the pilot to support a broad range of people caring for places of worship throughout Suffolk and committing grants of just under £300,000 to date.

We’re pleased to announce that Barbara Beckett will be joining the pilot team as the new Fabric Support Officer in Suffolk on Monday 5 August. Barbara has extensive experience in the Conservation of Architectural Surfaces, from vocational training as a Church Painter, Diploma in Conservation of wallpaintings and painted stonework, to a Postgraduate Course and PhD in Heritage Conservation and over 30 years’ experience in various positions in the conservation of the Historic Fabric. Barbara is looking forward to joining the team and will be working with Tom for two weeks to ensure a smooth handover.

Laura Emmins and Rachel Lake, our Community Development Advisers, are still working closely with a large number of places of worship across both regions. They are also working on a community development roadmap, outlining the steps taken by places of worship embarking on a community development project.

Find out more about the work of a Community Development Adviser

Workshops

The Churches Conservation Trust – our partner – is delivering a series of workshops as part of the pilot and has already successfully delivered six workshops (three in each region):

  • 10 December: A Stitch in Time: Why maintenance and small repairs really matter
  • 11 February: Places of Worship and the Wider Community: How to consult and build strong local partnerships
  • 3 June: A Stitch in Time: Why maintenance and small repairs really matter

The Churches Conservation Trust and the Taylor Pilot Team have reviewed feedback from these workshops and adapted the content of future workshops in response to this feedback.

People sitting at tables taking part in workshop
Places of Worship and the Wider Community Workshop, Bolton Victoria Methodist Mission © Historic England

Registration is now open for all remaining workshops

  • Saturday 23 November 2019: A Stitch in Time: Why maintenance and small repairs really matter
  • Saturday 14 September 2019, Monday 27 January 2020: Places of Worship and the Wider Community: How to consult and build strong local partnerships
  • Monday 29 July 2019: Planning and managing change part 1: turning your vision into a plan of action*
  • Saturday 19 October 2019: Planning and managing change part 2: building capacity and support to deliver change*

*Please note that these workshops were previously advertised as Planning and managing a project: Skills and talents you need to deliver a successful project and Fundraising and business planning: Developing a case for future investment. These workshops have been altered in response to an evaluation of needs and feedback following previous workshops.

Evaluation

The independent pilot evaluators from Frontier Economics are in the process of finalising their Interim Report for publication. We will share a link to this report via our mailing list once it has been published.

Frontier Economics presented their initial findings to DCMS and the Pilot Stakeholders on Tuesday 21 May 2019 and their presentation can be viewed below.

Meet Rachel Lake

As we’re approaching the close of the first year of the Taylor Review Pilot it’s wonderful to think back about the inspiring people I have met who look after a huge variety of listed places of worship in Greater Manchester, and the interesting projects, activities, future plans, trials and tribulations they have told me about.

Rachel Lake presenting to pilot stakeholders at the St Nicholas Centre, Ipswich
Rachel Lake presenting to pilot stakeholders at the St Nicholas Centre, Ipswich © Historic England

I have visited over 60 listed places representing a range of faiths, and have offered advice and support to many more. Some groups have lots of ideas for exciting events and partnerships but are unsure about how to get started, others know they want to do something, but just can’t think what their next step should be, and there are many people who wish to reach out and build partnerships with the communities around them, but don’t know how to do this. Having travelled the length and breadth of the Greater Manchester area, with all its communities and varied landscapes north to south, it’s clear that there is no one size fits all solution.

When some buildings are of a cathedral-like scale and others small with unique and intricate furnishings, approaches on how to use and access space need to be tailored and varied. It’s been so enjoyable meeting representatives of these important places and trying to navigate the issues to come up with fun, viable and robust solutions. There is plenty of potential here in Greater Manchester to utilise our listed places of worship to support their wider communities.

Solutions and ideas can take time to test and grow but some places are starting to see the fruits of their labour. By assisting in some planning exercises and public consultation a few groups have been able to consolidate and streamline their ideas and find momentum to realise them as fully fledged projects. An example of this is my work at one place of worship where there was an intention to set up a youth group, as well as separate projects relating to garden maintenance plans and heritage interpretation. I discussed with them the opportunity to consult the new youth group and a local school to assess potential interest from young people in activities relating to heritage and gardening. It will therefore be possible to use this information to plan a year of activities with the youth group and school involving interpretation and gardening, tying these activities in with the curriculum wherever possible.

I try to give places with fewer resources the support and confidence necessary for them to reach out and form links with the wider community and local organisations, and many are looking into different fundraising initiatives or have succeeded in acquiring funds.

The team at one place of worship requested help with creative solutions for opening on non-worship days (a specified requirement from the funding body they were applying to). I worked with them on a needs assessment of the local area which led to a collaboration with a local mums group who will utilise the space and allow visitors to access the building. They also further developed their young visitor trail into a more rounded school resource which enabled them to build a stronger education offer into their activity plan allowing for a more whole application. This place of worship was awarded grant funding; work will start on their tower soon and they have an achievable rota of activities for the year to come.

I have worked with a few places of worship on how to approach interpretation of their unique heritage and how it fits within the wider area, their faith and local history. I have also assisted some places of worship in enhancing their offer for the Heritage Open Days Festival and other local initiatives, fete’s and events. I encouraged them to include other groups, such as a near-by school, to help them in this preparation with the aim of creating activities that will appeal to families and draw in a new audience.

It has been interesting meeting the people caring for some of the more urban worship spaces and learning how they host advice clinics, refugee resources, food banks and even shelters. Part of my role in these instances has been to reassure these places that this is not just a worthy use of their space, but can generate resources and support from wider organisations for the building itself. Furthermore, I have spent time teasing out some of the unique skills that each group of volunteers has and encouraging them to feel confident in utilising these and making them well-known to any potential funders and partners.

I have also tried to promote further knowledge sharing between groups, particularly when one place might be able to swap their successful garden maintenance format with someone who can advise on some eye catching signage. Every one of these historic gems is unique, but there are some common threads that run between them and I have seen that a united neighbourly approach can work wonders.

My colleague Laura (Community Development Adviser in Suffolk) and I have been working together to try and map the process each place of worship might go through to achieve their visions, and how we can help them to progress in the next seven months. It hasn’t been easy boiling it down, but once we started analysing the range of activities we have been involved in, we realised there are more similarities than differences within the actual process, no matter how large or small the undertaking.

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