The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarded the SPAB a development grant to allow us to pilot the idea of bringing together groups of people caring for places of worship and encouraging them to work together to tackle common problems. The aim of this new project – the Maintenance Co-operative Movement – is to connect, encourage and support the many thousands of volunteers across the country who are responsible for the up-keep of some of our most beautiful and important buildings. We will be working with a range of individuals and organisations in order to deliver this new and exciting project.
The new project is a successor to the award winning Faith in Maintenance project (FiM), which is now complete. The FiM project was never intended to last beyond five years, but our evaluation work showed that there is a definite need for a successor scheme to develop and continue the key elements of the project. Over the next ten months we plan to use our development grant to explore the best way to establish the Maintenance Co-operative Movement as a network which will provide mutual support, information and practical advice for volunteers who look after historic faith buildings. Our hope is that the new project will allow people to share ideas, resources and good practice as well as to benefit from mutual support.
During the development phase, the SPAB will work with a number of partners including the National Churches Trust, English Heritage, the major denominations and several of the local churches trusts to identify five broad geographical areas where a series of linked local maintenance co-operatives will be established during the main phase of the project (2013 onwards). The intention is to recruit paid regional development officers for each area who will be responsible for encouraging people of all denominations to take part in local maintenance co-operatives. The regional officers will also 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 in their areas.
So that we can establish the most effective model for the local maintenance co-operatives Project Development Officer, Dr Bruce Induni, has set up three pilot schemes in the West Midlands in Stoke on Trent North, the Clun Forest and Dudley. Dr Induni is currently running a series of training events in these areas and will use this experience to help shape the activity plan for the main project. We will also use the development period to identify a range of other resources that volunteer groups might find useful in order to help them to care for their historic places or worship and to consider ways of ensuring that good practice and good ideas are shared at a local and a national level.
We intend to work with a wide range of other organisations across the faith and heritage sectors and details of our progress will be posted on the project blog as the year progresses. We also welcome input from anyone who would like to make a suggestion or get involved in the project. Please use the comments box to share your thoughts and ideas with us and we’ll respond as quickly as we can.