Heritage Buildings and Community Development
Introducing the work of the Heritage Buildings and Community Development Officer (HBCDO)
HBCDO Introduction - pdf
Please note: The revised Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme is now live and changes are effective from 1 April. Visit: http://www.lpwscheme.org.uk/.
The Origins of the Post
In 2006 English Heritage launched their 'Inspired!' campaign to raise awareness about the significance of Places of Worship in the nation's heritage. Among the objectives of the campaign was to grant fund 30 Place of Worship Support Officers who would provide advice and direction to organisations responsible for Heritage places of worship. English Heritage would provide 50% of the funds for the posts which would be run for three years in partnership with the local organisation that applied for the funding. Obviously the Church of England would be a key body in this initiative but the posts can also be ecumenical and interfaith.
Following three pilot projects in different areas of England, English Heritage was informed in December 2008 that the funds for the 30 posts would be available in April 2009.
The Diocese of Worcester HBCDO
A small working party in the Worcester Diocese had identified the need for such a post and the potential to work in partnership with other stakeholders and interested parties, being principally the relevant Local Authorities. The funding partners for the Diocese of Worcester HBCDO post are:
- English Heritage (EH)
- The Countess of Beauchamp Trust (CBT)
- Dudley Community Partnership (DCP)
- Worcester Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF)
- Worcester Diocesan Social Responsibility Fund (DSRF)
- Worcestershire County Council (WCC)
- Worcestershire and Dudley Historic Churches Trust (WDHCT)
The various funders (apart from CBT and WDHCT) are represented on the Steering Group which has oversight of the post for which the employing body is the Worcester Diocesan Board of Finance with line management by the Diocesan Secretary.
The HBCDO's key roles with heritage church buildings and churchyards in Dudley and Worcestershire are:
- To help individual congregations, and in particular those responsible for churches identified as priorities for support, to understand, maintain and make the best use of their buildings and land in and for their communities.
- To help diocesan and local authority bodies take a strategic approach to the increased use and conservation of historic places of worship.
There is a close relationship with work of the Archdeacons and the Diocesan Advisory Committee who can invite or recommend the involvement of the HBCDO in a specific case. The role of the HBCDO sits alongside the usual Faculty procedures which remain in place and are the route Churches should use if any changes are being proposed.
The Diocese of Worcester HBCDO - Introducing Andrew Mottram
I was ordained an Anglican priest in 1979 and had nearly 30 years experience of parish life and many years of making church buildings work for people. When I was Priest in Charge of All Saints Hereford, the church building was re-ordered and opened up to the community in 1997. Café @ All Saints proved to be a successful business venture which, together with other community activities, saw visitor numbers grow from an average of 200 per week to between 2,500 and 4,000.
The 'new' All Saints generated numerous enquiries and requests for help which led me to set up Ecclesiastical Property Solutions Ltd (EPS). Together with a former Diocesan Surveyor, I ran EPS as a specialist consultancy to Church communities in England and Wales from 2004 to 2009. During that time, EPS helped over 500 individual Church communities with their buildings and provided training and support to clergy and laity in 23 Dioceses. EPS also worked at a national level with English Heritage, The Church Buildings Council, The Churches Conservation Trust and The National Churches Trust.
The creation of the English Heritage Building Support Officers was a long term goal that I supported during the planning of the Inspired! campaign. Experience with EPS demonstrated that only a proportion of Churches would pay for the support and advice they needed. I was therefore extremely pleased when the funds were finally released to enable English Heritage to grant aid the Support Officer posts and even more pleased to be appointed to the role in the Diocese of Worcester.
Priorities of the Post
There are a number of threads to the job here in the Diocese of Worcester. Above all it is to encourage Church communities in the task of looking after a whole range of buildings on behalf of the wider community and the nation as a whole.
The need is to build the capacity of people to equip and enable the Church communities to meet the challenges which the church buildings bring. This requires facts and data; knowledge and skills and an appreciation of the benefits of preventative maintenance.
Church buildings as community buildings
Another thread is to help Church communities to make their church buildings viable and sustainable community buildings which, if at all possible, are used for far more than just services of worship.
In tune with the three Diocesan Priorities
There has been some development and refinement of the Mission Priorities for the Diocese over the last couple of years. Bishop John writing in the December 2009/January 2010 Diocesan News, reminded us of the three priorities for the Churches of the Diocese:
- The deepening of our prayer
- The renewal of our public worship
- The equipping of people to share their faith
The three themes are intentionally Church focussed (i.e. relate to the worshipping community) in order for something to happen. They should NOT be interpreted as a programme of action which is just for the benefit of the members. As Bishop John explained: "The three priorities upon which we have determined to concentrate will help us focus upon the mission and evangelism which are so necessary at the present time and, in so doing, enable the development of vibrant churches which exhibit the hallmarks of healthy churches."
These three priorities will inform my work with the local Churches. My job is to help Church communities take control of the problems associated with church buildings so as to release time and energy for the members to focus on the three priorities of the Diocese of Worcester.
Following the first three years of the HBCDO post, English Heritage have renewed their 50% funding for another three years and the necessary partnership funding is in place. This means the HBCDO post will continue until the end of August 2015.
The place to start is to read through and possibly discuss with other members of your Church, the information and advice which is available on the website. It is all intended to be freely available so please download it and use with as many people as possible. The information will give you a clearer picture of how you can get the best from what I can offer your Church.
Tel: 01905 732808; Mobile 07960 726717 email: