Christ Church Bedford: Building community from within

After seven long years, on a tide of enormous community support and an amazing £2 million raised by its congregation alone, Christ Church Bedford has now proudly opened its new Church Halls.

The vision is to bring the community into the church and expand the church’s outreach to support more vulnerable, isolated and disadvantaged people in the local area. Revd Canon Richard Hibbert said: “Christ Church exists in a community and we want to be for our community. We don’t want to be an isolationist church that does everything for ourselves.”

Allchurches Trust has provided £25,000 funding since 2015 towards the creation of the building, which features seven different sized meeting spaces, a new kitchen, improved toilets, an access lift and a focus on accessibility for people of all ages.

The new Church Halls are already buzzing with life and are in constant use. A pre-school provides day time care for 52 children, there are counselling sessions, a Lunch Club for over 60s, an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) hospitality class, plus more than a dozen community groups.

Award-winning firm, Grindley Architects, designed the attractive, light and airy, sustainably-built building, which recently won the 2019 prestigious central region LABC Building Excellence Awards and is now nominated for the UK grand final in November 2019.

Jeremy Noles, grants officer at Allchurches Trust, said: “The range of community support that Christ Church is making available from their new building is simply staggering and they have plans to enhance this outreach work even further. We were delighted to be able to support their vision of a local hub that meets so many of their neighbourhood’s needs, from tackling loneliness and food poverty to activities and initiatives aimed at enabling children and young people to reach their potential.”

Revd Hibbert continued: “We want to increase the help we offer to the poor and disadvantaged. We want to expand our existing foodbank. We want to increase our support services for debt management. We want to care deeply for those who are lonely, we want to reach out to those who want friendship. We want to serve older people, children, young families and young people in the community and in the church family alike.”

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