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.
We are planning multiple changes to the church building to enable the community to make greater use of the building.
The changes will 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.
We now have permission 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 roughly £300,000.
This sounds a lot, but we can reclaim over £50,000 in V.A.T. and we have raised £64,600 so far through grants and donations. We have made a number of grant applications including one for £92,000, and should hear in January 2018 if we are successful.
The congregation have contributed very generously. But we still need more money, to enable us to complete the entire project in one go.
We have split the work into three phases. While some of the money we have raised is tied to specific parts of the project, not all of it is. We hope to start Phase One in March, and roll over any unallocated surplus to Phase Two, and then to Phase Three as needed. We hope to complete all three phases one after the other, but we have the option to delay phases 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, or 3c if we do not have enough money to cover its cost.
The PhasesPhase 1: new radiators, underfloor heating, and flooring;
Phase 2: (a) new kitchen and toilet; (b) new access ramp; and
Phase 3: (a) wooden chairs; (b) plastic chairs (c) pews.
As well as members of St. Thomas' congregation, past and present, we are grateful to the following for their support so far:
£9,000 - Diocese of Manchester
£2,300 - Oldham MBC
£1,250 - Allchurches Trust
£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.
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 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 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.
- 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
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.
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.
We really need a new heating system.