St Wilfrid’s Church: stepping into the 21st Century

CHURCHES

Funding from Allchurches Trust’s General Grants programme and Growing Lives thematic programme (now closed) has helped bring a 900-year-old Grade I listed church into the 21st century, with the construction of a dedicated annex for young people and their families.

St Wilfrid’s Church, in the heart of Grappenhall village, is surrounded by the growing town of Warrington. The church’s community has expanded rapidly with hundreds of new residents moving to the area from urban Manchester and Liverpool.

To be able to extend a warm welcome to newcomers – and meet the needs of its existing congregation - the church made the decision to expand its footprint and modernise the 19th Century building with the addition of a new annex.

The church is particularly active in engaging with young people and wanted to make youth work a focus for the annex, giving the younger members of the community great memories of growing up in the area.

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Lessons St Wilfrid’s Church learned along the way…

• Take time to learn what is really needed – then do it!

• Think about the environment and whole life costs during the development

• Use multiple channels of communication to talk about your project

• Get your community involved

Work on the new annex was completed in July 2021, after unpredictable delays due the Covid-19 pandemic. But the hard work was worth it, and the new space boasts a meeting room with servery, a flexible ‘mingle space’, five toilets including accessible and baby changing facilities, and a volunteer room with storage.

The second phase of the project has recently started which involves improving the public access routes for walkers, cyclists and cars, with a particular focus on improving accessibility for older people and families with young children.

Rev’d Jane Proudfoot, St Wilfrid’s Rector, said: “The annex is a wonderful enhancement to a much-loved church in a picturesque and historic village. We are really looking forward to welcoming people when the annex is officially open.

“It’s great to see what’s been accomplished through the generosity of the congregation, grant funders and the local community. The pandemic has taken its toll on us all. We want to be a sign of hope as our community looks to the future.”