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Maintenance Co-operative Movement wins Heritage Lottery Fund support


2 April 2012

Building on the success of its HLF-backed Faith in Maintenance Project, SPAB (The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) has received initial support* from HLF - including a development grant of £67,900 - for a successor scheme designed to create and sustain a series of ‘local maintenance co-operatives' which will link groups of people caring for places of worship and encourage them to work together to tackle common problems.

SPAB plans to use the development grant to shape and co-ordinate The Maintenance Co-operative Movement, a network of mutual support, information and practical advice for volunteers who look after historic faith buildings, with the help of the National Churches Trust. The aim is the help people at the sharp end of maintenance to help each other.

Faith in Maintenance (FiM) was launched in 2007 with the aim of taking the message of the importance of good maintenance directly to those who give their time to look after the many architecturally significant buildings throughout the country used as places of worship. In the past five years nearly 4,600 volunteers of all faiths and denominations have attended FiM courses. Through workshops for young people and lectures at other events the FiM message reached a total of 5,500 people. 150 courses were held throughout the country and course leader Sara Croft travelled 53,000 miles to personally deliver them.

The unique project was recognised in 2010 when it was awarded a prestigious European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award in the Education and Awareness-Raising category. Judges described it as 'exemplary' and ‘an inspirational model'.

FiM was never intended to last beyond five years, but its success and enthusiastic reception has proved that there is a strong and definite need for a successor scheme to develop and continue the key elements of the project. The new Maintenance Co-operative Movement will allow people to share ideas, resources and good practice as well as to benefit from mutual support.

During the initial development phase, SPAB and the National Churches Trust, in consultation with sector partners including English Heritage, the major denominations and local churches trusts, will identify five broad geographical areas where a series of linked local maintenance co-operatives will be established.  The intention is to recruit paid regional development officers for each area who will be responsible for persuading people of all denominations to take part in local maintenance co-operatives. The regional officers will recruit a number of volunteer coordinators to help manage local groups. The volunteers will assist with arranging local training events and encourage good maintenance practice on their patch. To facilitate these sessions, project staff will develop and provide training and teaching materials.

The first task of each co-operative will be to carry out a training needs assessment and this information will be used to plan a tailored programme of formal and informal training activities and workshops. Topics might include:

  • care of objects
  • running building projects
  • setting up and running ‘friends' groups
  • recruiting volunteers
  • understanding the building's history
  • understanding building materials
  • security/prevention of metal theft
  • historic building legislation
  • how to work with your professional adviser
  • how to use the quinquennial inspection report
  • writing maintenance plans
  • sustainability / energy efficiency
  • war memorial care
  • health and safety

Sara Crofts, who led SPAB's FiM project says: "FiM proved that there are a lot of people across the country who generously give their time to help look after their much-valued places of worship, and they want to find out more about how to care for these buildings effectively with dwindling resources.  Inevitably, it's an uphill battle.  The Maintenance Co-operative Movement will unlock that deep reservoir of good will by encouraging people to get together, get involved and get stuck in, knowing that there's a pool of support, information, advice and assistance to draw on. We plan to build a mutually beneficial maintenance community with the skills and knowledge to tackle the day-to-day care of these important buildings. The volunteers who join our maintenance co-operatives will help and inform each other and, importantly boost each others' confidence.  It's a way of targeting and using limited resources efficiently, positively and practically."

Carole Souter, Chief Executive of HLF says: "Without the dedication of thousands of volunteers, the UK's places of worship would, quite literally, fall into disrepair. The kind of partnership work that SPAB is fostering with this new initiative chimes perfectly with HLF's own thinking on volunteering; we hope it will encourage even more people to get actively involved with their local heritage. Initial development funding will be used to progress plans further, enabling SPAB to work towards securing a full HLF grant in future."


Notes to Editors

For more information contact Kate Griffin, SPAB press office 0207 456 0905 /

*A first-round pass/initial support means the project meets HLF criteria for funding and HLF believes the project has potential to deliver high-quality benefits and value for Lottery money. The application was in competition with other supportable projects, so a first-round pass is an endorsement of outline proposals. Having been awarded a first-round pass, the project now has up to two years to submit fully developed proposals to compete for a firm award. On occasion, an applicant with a first-round pass will also be awarded development funding towards the development of their scheme.

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.

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The National Churches Trust is the only independent national charity dedicated to preserving, promoting and supporting all churches, chapels and meeting houses of historic, architectural and community value across the UK. Each year the Trust awards grants and gives support right across the UK.

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The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Using money raised through The National Lottery, the HLF sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums parks and historic places, to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported 30,000 projects, allocating £4.7 billion across the UK. 

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