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Faith in Maintenance produces free DVDs for volunteers.

Filming the DVD

Date

12 March 2009

“Wow, this is fantastic! Absolutely fantastically brilliant! It should be compulsory viewing for every PCC member, not just churchwardens.” Jim May, Diocesan Pastoral & Advisory Secretary, Diocese of St Albans.

Established in 2007 the Faith in Maintenance (FiM) project has been developed by Britain’s oldest conservation charity, SPAB (The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings). The £850,000 scheme has won generous support from the HLF, English Heritage and other partners to bring practical, helpful information to volunteers caring for faith buildings.

The new DVD, funded with grants of £25,000 each from The Pilgrim Trust and The Dulverton Trust and further support from the HLF, is the next step for the ground-breaking project in its mission to bring practical advice, guidance and support to those at the sharp edge of maintenance.

The DVD complements FiM’s free courses for the many people of all faiths and denominations throughout the country who care for significant buildings.

Places of worship are integral to the landscape of Britain, representing centuries of belief, craftsmanship and design. Yet many of our most precious faith-related buildings are in desperate need of repair and rely on the help of local supporters. SPAB’s FiM project is bringing direct assistance to the army of volunteers who look after a variety of these buildings in both England and Wales.

Since its inception, FiM has already held 45 courses nationwide, attracting more than 1500 people. For 2009, it is intended that 30 more courses will run at locations from Devon to Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne – 27 of these of these are already confirmed.

Like FiM’s regular courses, the DVD focuses on the idea of preventative maintenance and is designed to help volunteers understand why buildings decay and how problems caused by broken gutters and leaking roofs can be avoided. Information is presented in a clear and practical way by retired builder and former SPAB chairman David Lodge, who is featured as ‘the expert’ providing helpful tips to enthusiastic volunteer, Daphne Foulsham. Daphne is a churchwarden in her home parish of Albury in Surrey.

The DVD was filmed by production company Limelite Media in a variety of locations including several historic churches in Essex and the south east, the church of St Stephen in Cheltenham, the impressive Middle Street Synagogue in Brighton, the beautiful Jain Centre in Leicester, the unusual Dean Row Unitarian Chapel in Wilmslow, Cheshire, and the picturesque Maesyronnen Methodist Chapel near Glasbury, Wales.

This month 20,000 copies of the DVD are being sent to faith networks for distribution. These include all of the Anglican dioceses in England and Wales, and the nine English Heritage regional offices, who are using the DVD to support their repair grant scheme. The National Churches Trust will also be sending out the DVD with their grant awards and copies will be sent to synagogues across London and to those on the Buildings at Risk Register.

A further 10,000 copies are to be sent to other faith groups over the coming months.

The DVD follows the publication in 2008 of FiM’s Good Maintenance Guide, a practical handbook given free to all those attending a course. (Also available from SPAB priced at £5 plus P&P).

FiM is led by architect and former SPAB Scholar Sara Crofts. She says: “Alongside our courses, the DVD is another useful way for us to spread the message and help faith communities take effective steps to look after their places of worship.”

“Few churchwardens, for example, have relevant training, yet they are responsible for nearly half of England’s grade I listed buildings. They already do an excellent job, but the free training and information we are offering will enhance their work. Historic buildings are vitally important to the heart of communities where it is often the people themselves who play a crucial role in preserving the past.”

Diana Evans, Head of Places of Worship Policy at English Heritage, says: “We hope that all congregations will watch the Faith in Maintenance DVD and benefit from its down to earth, practical advice. Faith in Maintenance, like EH's Inspired! campaign, deals with the real issues volunteers face, and this DVD should help to build confidence and enthusiasm.”

Andrew Edwards, Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust, says: “We welcome and endorse this informative and accessible DVD as a valuable new tool in the conservation of places of worship of historic and architectural value. This essential practical advice will help congregations to better manage the buildings in their care.”

Notes to Editors

For more information contact Kate Griffin, SPAB Press Office on 0207 456 0905. Images are available.

FiM has been made possible through an HLF grant of £645,000 with a further £75,000 from English Heritage. The remainder has been match-funded by SPAB and other partners. The DVD has been funded by grants of £25,000 each from The Pilgrim Trust and from The Dulverton Trust.

One of the key aspects of the scheme is that free training will be available to any faith group using a historic building for its worship. Around 45% of Grade 1 listed buildings in England are maintained by the Church of England, but other faiths, some relatively new to this country, make use of redundant churches and chapels, or other historic buildings adapted for worship.

Attending a Faith in Maintenance training course provides volunteers with:

  • An appreciation of the importance of historic places of worship
  • An understanding of traditional building materials and construction
  • The ability to recognize potential problems
  • Information on how to tackle common maintenance tasks
  • Access to specialist professional advice
  • Opportunities to share experiences with other volunteers

Along with protecting significant historic structures, the project will also encourage more people to become actively involved in their local community’s heritage while broadening and strengthening their own skills base. Volunteers find out more about maintenance and decay, Health and Safety, legislative issues, managing relationships with professional advisors and builders, planning ahead and monitoring.

Importantly the courses provide opportunities for networking (useful for isolated volunteers) and enable participants to adapt English Heritage maintenance plans for their own buildings with expert advice to hand. It is intended that FIM will reach 6,000 people during the five year life of the project.

SPAB welcomes enquiries from faith groups interested in running a course for their volunteers.

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) was founded by William Morris in 1877 to care for and preserve the UK’s architectural heritage. Since its foundation, SPAB has been committed to advise and educate homeowners and building professionals through courses and publications. Following Morris’ exhortation to “Stave off decay by daily care” SPAB is the force behind National Maintenance Week each November. Today it is a dynamic organisation, and registered charity, taking building conservation into the future. To find out more visit www.spab.org.uk.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) enables communities to celebrate, look after and learn more about our diverse heritage. From our great museums and historic buildings to local parks and beauty spots or recording and celebrating traditions, customs and history, HLF grants open up our nation's heritage for everyone to enjoy. It has supported more than 22,500 projects, allocating over £3.6billion across the UK.  To find out more visit www.hlf.org.uk.

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