Bolsover Methodist Church leads way in healing the wounds of ex-mining communities

Allchurches Trust was delighted to award a grant of £6,750 to support the incredible work undertaken by the Bolsover Methodist Church and Freedom Community Project in a deprived, post-industrial area of Derbyshire. The beneficiary was one of 59 charities to receive a grant from Allchurches Trust in May and followed a grant of £50,000 from the Methodist Insurance Fund earlier this year.

Revd Sean Adair, minister at Bolsover Methodist, told Allchurches’ Grants Officer, Paul Playford, how his church had been ‘bursting at the seams’ with much-needed community work over the past decade, and the building itself was now in need of care and refurbishment.

He said: “During the recession in 2008, our church members realised they had to look outward and do more to help the community; things weren’t good and a lot of people needed some help. Bolsover has suffered a lot, both economically and socially, since the pit closures began in 1993.

“Over decades this had led to poverty, a lack of confidence, low expectations and little social mobility. Much of the work in Bolsover these days is temporary and the poorest people don’t have cars; transport to work or study elsewhere is limited and too expensive for many.

“We started a free coffee morning for anyone who wanted to come along. From this, church members really began to understand the depth of poverty in our area and the many and varied needs of people who had received no, or very little, support for years.

“As more and more needs came to the surface, it was clear we would need to employ staff to really tackle the issues facing our community. The Freedom Community Project (FCP) was eventually born. At first it was simply an expression of the church’s community ministry. In time it became a charity in its own right but is still very much part of the Methodist Church’s ministry and work.”

The recent grant is helping to redevelop the Bolsover Methodist Church building, to undertake long-overdue repair works, provide more space and make the building more flexible for worshippers, community groups and the Freedom Community Project (which is now a highly respected regional charity supporting 13 post-industrial and deprived centres around Derbyshire and Sheffield - it continues to expand).

Paul said: “It is a real privilege to go and meet the people, see the projects and really understand the impact of our grants out in the community. This is an amazing project that is making so much difference to so many lives and communities who feel as though they have been let down, forgotten and given up on, repeatedly, and over many years.”

Since the Freedom Community Project began, it has recovered £2.8 million of benefits for people entitled to them; housed 92 people with no home; helped £2.0 million of personal debt become managed; and provided 14,700 food parcels.