Barrow church’s funding boost for community cafe

A Barrow congregation is set to return to their vacant church building, creating a new community café as part of the project, after necessary funding was secured.

The Rev'd Jo NortheyMembers of St Aidan’s had to leave their church four years ago because it was no longer water tight.

Last winter work was completed to repair the building’s roof, after fundraising by the church family and a ten year loan was taken out to help pay for the works.

And now a second phase of building works is set to start, after confirmation that the Diocese of Carlisle – the Church of England in Cumbria – has funded £100,000 towards the scheme.

A further £50,000 has been awarded by WREN ¬- a not-for-profit business that awards grants for community, conservation and heritage projects from funds donated by landfill and waste and resource management company FCC Environment through its Landfill Communities Fund. And just over £5,000 has been donated by the Sir John Fisher Foundation, which looks to benefit projects in the Barrow area.

The Rev’d Jo Northey, Team Vicar for the South Barrow Team Ministry, said: “This is so important for our church community and we’re incredibly grateful to all those who have agreed to fund this work.

“We had to leave our church building four years ago and since then we’ve been worshipping in our church hall. That means we’ve had very few approaches from our local community when people have wanted to celebrate those really important life services such as christenings, marriages and funerals.

“There are so many people living here who, in a census, have identified themselves nominally as being Christians and so it’s vital that we see the church open again as soon as possible.

“Coupled with that we welcomed many of the congregation from St Luke’s when their church closed and for them to have to go a second period of uncertainty has been particularly hard and challenging.”

Confirmation of the funding means work will now begin to convert the lady chapel of St Aidan’s into a community café as well as preparing the church for reopening for worship.

Community cafe outdoors at St Aidan's Barrow-in-FurnessA café has already been running from St Aidan’s church hall for a number of years and has proved popular with community groups.

Stained glass from the former St Luke’s will also be incorporated into the screening design for the new café.

Trustees of the Diocese of Carlisle’s Board of Finance (CDBF) approved funding for the building work.

Martin Jayne, Chair of the CDBF, said: “This is a significant investment but it’s one that we’re glad to make to ensure there’s continued mission and outreach on the Newbarns estate which will complement that which is ongoing in other churches across the Barrow Deanery.

“The people in the South Barrow Team Ministry have thought strategically about their buildings in recent years and by rationalising the number of church buildings they have, so released the money that enables this investment to be made in the Fit for Purpose project.

“We look forward to St Aidan’s being open again for worship and for local people to have the opportunity to drop in for a brew and a catch up in the community café.”

It’s hoped that the church will be reopened by Christmas and that further funding can help secure a new post for someone to run the community café.

The café is expected to open in early 2017, five days a week initially with opening hours targeted around the community’s needs such as school pick-up and drop-off times and parent and toddler groups.

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For further information contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658, 01768 807764 or at communications@carlislediocese.org.uk.