Inspired Futures: Sustaining Church Buildings in North East England

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Church of St Thomas the Martyr




United Kingdom

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This one day conference will present the achievements, experience and learning from the Inspired Futures church building development project in North East England (funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund). Over the last three years, Inspired Futures has worked with 18 historic Church of England churches in the Dioceses of Newcastle and Durham to support the care and development of their buildings via training, focussed strategic development work, and the creation of heritage resources including the Travelling Treasure mobile exhibition.

Against a background where the need to find new approaches to sustaining church buildings is a national issue (see the recent 'Taylor Review' and the Historic England pilot projects currently underway linked to that), this conference will be a great opportunity for anyone caring for places of worship – whether locally or nationally, as a volunteer or professional, as a worshipper or wider community member, or as a cleric or a lay person – to discover what Inspired Futures has done and achieved, to share in our inevitable ups and downs, and to explore with the Inspired Futures team (church groups and support team) where the project points for the future of church building development and care.

The day will have a number of different elements. The project support team, including specialist consultants and the Project Officers, will outline the different aspects of the project – training, strategic/regeneration planning, resource development and some of the key overall results. There will be presentations from Inspired Futures churches describing their individual projects, experience, and how Inspired Futures has worked for them. We will also look at what we have learnt, what has worked and what hasn’t, and how that fits with national church building support initiatives. And there will be plenty of opportunity for discussion and sharing experience and learning in relation both to inspired Futures and other projects delegates have been involved in.

The conference will take place at the impressive late Georgian church of St Thomas the Martyr, Haymarket, Newcastle (one of the Inspired Futures churches, located in the heart of Newcastle city centre and easily accessible by all forms of transport). The Travelling Treasure exhibition, one of the heritage interpretation resources created as a collaborative project across the Inspired Futures churches (and a key exemplar of how churches can make better and more innovative use of their heritage as a key part of attracting new audiences and users), will be on display in the church.

The day is free (thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of Inspired Futures), and refreshments and lunch will be provided. We very much look forward to welcoming you on July 5th!

Please see the full programme below:

10.00 Arrival and tea/coffee

10.10 About the Day Ian Bapty, Inspired North East Project Officer

10.15 Welcome The Venerable Peter Robinson, Archdeacon of Lindisfarne

10.25 Welcome to St Thomas’s Mary Swindells, St Thomas’s church team

10.30 Inspired Futures – A Model for Change?

Peter Biggers, Inspired Futures Durham Diocese Lead Consultant

10.50 Inspired Futures Churches: How it’s worked for us (Part 1)

Christ Church, Shieldfield – Mike Summersby

Church of Our Lady, Delaval – Rev David Bowler

St Cuthbert’s, Darlington – Rev Matthew Firth and Paul Gilmore

11.35 Break

11.45 Inspired Futures Churches: How it’s worked for us (Part 2)

St Chad’s Bensham – Rev Meg Gilley and Jayne Hopkins

Additional comments from other Inspired Futures churches

Questions and Discussion

12.30 Lunch (and look round St Thomas’s and Travelling Treasure)

13.15 Inspired Futures: Heritage, Resources and Learning

Supporting Regeneration Planning – Rachel Barrett, CCT Consultant

Creating Travelling Treasure – Jo Scott, Heritage Consultant

Overall Outcomes and Learning – Nicola Bell, Evaluation Consultant

Resources and Legacy – Ian Bapty, Inspired North East Project Officer

14.15 National perspectives and what next?

Churches and the National Lottery Heritage Fund – Kate Duffy, National Lottery Heritage Fund Engagement Manager

The Historic England Taylor Review Pilot Project: Initial results and experience – Lucy More, Taylor Review Pilot Project Manager

Rural Churches for Everyone NLHF ‘Inspiring Ideas’ Project 2019-21 – Ian Bapty, Inspired North East Project Officer

15.05 Break

15.15 Plenary Session Chaired by the Venerable Peter Robinson

Discussion themes include:

Sustaining church buildings/places of worship – key future directions?

Applying learning – passing on experience, models and resources?

Church team capacity and other challenges – addressing these?

Using heritage in new ways – value and potential for churches?

15.45 Summary of the Day

Ian Bapty, Inspired North East Project Officer

Peter Biggers, Inspired Futures Durham Diocese Lead Consultant

16.00 Close

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Church of St Thomas the Martyr




United Kingdom

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