Exterior view of a Quaker Meeting House in Norwich
Quaker Meeting House, Upper Goat Lane, Norwich © Historic England DP160447
Quaker Meeting House, Upper Goat Lane, Norwich © Historic England DP160447

Maintenance Project with Quakers in Norfolk

By Peter Aiers, Chief Executive, The Churches Conservation Trust

The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) has a proud 50 year history of conserving and maintaining religious heritage. With the help of our volunteers we care for 353 historic churches across England.

Over time the charity has improved and refined how we procure the maintenance of our buildings and how we support and communicate with our volunteers. Our fully tendered maintenance service, extends right across England.

We’ve been looking at ways to provide support to others who look after religious heritage, in addition to the buildings in CCT’s direct care. Our service includes:

  • An annual maintenance visit
  • An annual inspection visit
  • Emergency 24/7 call-out service
  • Small repairs and periodic maintenance

Following the routine maintenance visit of the contractor, the CCT’s Estate Officer (whose job is to ensure that the day to day maintenance is managed) can study the site report. He or she then spends time with the volunteers to discuss decisions about the works that may be required. It‘s really important that money is invested in the buildings in the right way and at the right time. The CCT support provides confidence to those with responsibility for buildings to make decisions as well as help with any compliance issues that may arise, either from existing or new legislation.  

Our service includes provision for an emergency call-out service to provide peace of mind and arrest any damage as soon as it happens. The contract also provides for the CCT to support any small repairs that the buildings might require. Our Estate Officer can support volunteers and provide confidence in deciding to commission a specific repair or other works that may be needed. The CCT will also check the quality of the work.

The Quakers in Norfolk and Waveney approached the CCT to support their volunteers caring for their meeting houses and other property. The volunteers directly involved with the care of the buildings have found the role increasingly burdensome and there has been no practical infrastructure. As a response to the concerns of the volunteers, a  group of meeting house volunteers approached the CCT to consider how we might be able to help. Our dedicated team now makes sure that volunteers are supported in the care of their buildings, informed of the work needed, and that we respond to any building fabric issues about which the volunteers inform us.

The CCT is also supporting the work of the local volunteers caring for the Historic Chapels Trust collection of 20 buildings. In this instance we are providing the regular maintenance and volunteer support services whilst we undertake a strategic review of the HCT portfolio.

At the CCT we are uniquely placed to develop an infrastructure of support for groups and volunteers who care for religious heritage. The CCT can apply the experience we have had over the last 50 years of managing our own collection and supporting our more than 2,000 volunteers, to support volunteers and buildings across the country.

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