Cherish partnership offers at risk churches and chapels a guiding light


Cherish partnership offers at risk churches and chapels a guiding light.The National Churches Trust awarded £1.9m grant to boost skills, resources and funding for historic places of worship
· Three-year grant programme partnering with The National Lottery Heritage Fund expands a proven model supporting the sector
· Cherish partnership will focus on Wales, Scotland and the North West of England
· Grant will safeguard the future for some of the oldest and most treasured historic buildings in UK – otherwise at threat of closure
· Scotland and North West of England will be supported in identifying potential community use for places of worship
· Wales will benefit from developing the visitor offer of places of worship in Wales

Places of worship in Scotland, Wales and North West of England (Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Cumbria) will benefit from a £1.9m National Lottery Heritage Fund grant, awarded to the National Churches Trust to keep historic churches and chapels thriving today, and tomorrow.
The three-year programme will provide cherished churches and chapels with practical solutions to improve how their buildings are cared for and secured for the future. Financial support will be provided together with initiatives to strengthen heritage management skills and training for people who look after places of worship, investing overall in local areas’ heritage, capability and resources.



The funding will target the most critical areas improving economic and community resources, providing important benefits to places of worship and communities. These include:
· Grants: dedicated to maintenance, project development and small repairs, offering financial support of between £500 and £10,000. Grants will be available from May 2023 through the National Churches Trust’s online Grants Portal:
· Maintenance: expert information and support to proactively deal with a range of problems to avoid the need for expensive repairs.
· Crisis support: the National Churches Trust will work in partnership with a variety of organisations and help identify suitable support for communities facing the potential loss of historic buildings.
· Resourcing: three full-time local support officers based in Wales, Scotland and North West England to build relationships with places of worship and respond to local issues.
· Digital Toolkit of buildings’ care, including income generation resources and materials to be used throughout the UK, accessible to places of worship and for all faiths.
· Training: building local capacity to look after buildings in need, ownership and care of historic places of worship - covering project management, writing funding bids, maintenance skills and tourism.
· Visitors: improving access to and awareness of the value of cherished churches and chapels, creating themed visitor trails and engaging with partners across UK heritage.
The £1.9m grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund builds on ‘Treasure Ireland’, a pilot project in Northern Ireland, developed and managed by the National Churches Trust.
The Treasure Ireland project helped over 300 places of worship with grants, advice, training and resources. One of the churches to take advantage of the project was St Macartan’s - The Forth Chapel - in Augher, County Tyrone which won the UK-wide title of Church of the Year 2022.
Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “As the UK’s largest funder of heritage, we want to collaborate with organisations who share our vision and understand heritage and the people they support.
“Our long-term partnership with the National Churches Trust builds on our wide-ranging experience of  grant-making to conserve heritage and bring new life and purpose to cherished churches and chapel buildings.
“We are delighted to be able to award the National Churches Trust £1.9m to provide much needed support to places of worship in Scotland, Wales and the North West of England.
“As we look to launch our new ten-year strategy this week, we’ve listened to what the sector and the public want. This grant will direct funding to where it’s most needed, protecting and caring for some of our most precious and fragile heritage, at the heart of communities.
“Thanks to National Lottery players, we are investing in  thousands of organisations small and large to protect, conserve and celebrate the past for current and future generations”.
Claire Walker, Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust, said: “Churches and chapels are some of our most historic and beautiful buildings. At the centre of local communities, they also provide a home for countless community support such as playgroups, drop-in-centres and warm spaces, as well as serving their core purpose as places of worship.”
“A huge thank-you to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for investing £1.9 million Cherish, a three-year project which will see the National Churches Trust supporting places of worship in Scotland, Wales and the North West of England.”
“As well as providing much needed immediate help and practical support, this partnership will allow us to develop new ways of supporting churches and chapels so that they can remain open and available, in use and valued by all."
Huw Edwards, Vice-President of the National Churches Trust, BBC journalist and broadcaster, said: "Historic churches and chapels are a vital part of our national heritage. So I’m delighted that, thanks to funding of £1.9 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the National Churches Trust will be able to provide much needed practical support to help keep places of worship in Wales, Scotland and the North West of England open and continuing to serve local people.”
One of the churches to take advantage of the Treasure Ireland project, on which this new Cherish project builds, was St Macartan (The Forth Chapel) in the heart of the Clogher Valley which was recently won the Church of the Year Award.
Mary McGee, representative of 2022 Church of the Year Award winner St Macartan’s, said “The National Churches Trust has been invaluable to us in our journey to both discover and appreciate our heritage and also in terms of financial support. The work of the project officer in Northern Ireland from our first meeting with her has been so beneficial to our work on St Macartan’s church."
"Through her site visits, online webinars and constant  advice it has given us the confidence to take our project forward and reawakened in the community a renewed pride and respect for the work of past generations who left us with this lasting legacy.”
As ‘Treasure Ireland’ has done in Northern Ireland, this new three-year project will allow the National Churches Trust to work in partnership with local organisations to identify the most pressing needs of congregations and local communities and then work together to develop and offer a range of solutions that helps to stop important heritage being lost.

Cherish partnership is the church engagement, repair, sustainability for heritage, project. The word reflects how much these historic buildings mean for their local community.
· Grants will be dedicated to maintenance, project development and small repairs, offering grants of between £500 and £10,000.
· When and how to apply: Grants will be available from May 2023 through the National Churches Trust’s online Grants Portal:

About The National Churches Trust:
The National Churches Trust is the leading national independent charity concerned with the protection and welfare of churches, chapels and meeting houses throughout the United Kingdom.
We aim to:
· Provide grants for the repair, maintenance and modernisation of church buildings
· Act as a catalyst to improve and bring more resources to the management of church buildings
· Promote the value of church buildings to the community at large.

For more information visit
For further news about the National Churches Trust and the CHERISH programme, sign up to the free National Churches Trust newsletter:
About The National Lottery Heritage Fund:
Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.
Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and
Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund and #HereForDigital


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