Canny Space

Grade I listed Holy Trinity is an early Georgian architectural treasure, possibly the most significant building in the history of ‘Old Sunderland’.

Located in one of the most economically deprived areas of England which also ranks in the top 3% of the most deprived neighbourhoods for educational attainment, Holy Trinity has been structurally unsafe and partly closed since 2014. Now cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust, it has become the subject of their latest big regeneration challenge.

Plans have been drawn up in conjunction with the local community, many of whom have deep family bonds with the church and fond personal memories of attending in the past. Holy Trinity will be transformed into The Canny Space, a conserved and renovated heritage landmark and a beacon of cultural renaissance in Sunderland.

Allchurches Trust is giving £129,000 to fund three local people to work for 12 months as apprentices on the restoration project, learning traditional building skills.

Our grant addresses a recognised national shortage of people equipped with the skills to restore historic buildings and we’ll be improving local employment. A series of workshops and videos will allow the wider community to gain an insight into the skills the apprentices are acquiring.

Producer Dave Stewart, originally from Sunderland and known worldwide as part of the former Eurythymics, will be the Creative Director of an arts, music and culture programme that will run in the beautifully restored and sensitively adapted church interior.

Canny Space aims to engage local people, inspire new talent and attract visitors to the East End of Sunderland as a place to be celebrated and enjoyed.

The Churches Conservation Trust are creating staff posts and university internships and up to 90 volunteers will be trained, giving them transferable social and work skills.

Especially important for local people who remember the church while it was still run by the Church of England is the fact that Holy Trinity will remain consecrated with up to six services a year.