Touchstone building bridges and community in Bradford

Touchstone – an organisation that brings together people and communities of different faiths and cultures in Bradford – is set to step up its activities after moving into a new and improved home.

Part of the West Yorkshire Methodist Trust, Touchstone has been building community in Bradford – the UK’s most multi-cultural city – for more than 25 years.

For the last 10 of those, Touchstone has been looking for new premises and, having finally identified and secured a suitable site, it has finally moved into a bigger, fit-for-purpose space that will make it accessible to all. The building was recently officially opened by Rev Michaela Youngson, President of the Methodist Church.

The project to completely refurbish a local bar into a new home for Touchstone was supported by a £10,000 grant from Allchurches Trust, as well as a £15,000 Methodist Insurance Fund grant.

Touchstone is a listening and welcoming community, enabling safe spaces for honest and creative dialogue. It works alongside people of many different faiths and gives opportunities to find common ground and explore differences.

The organisation works particularly with women and runs activities such as ‘Baking a Difference’ - a chance to talk about the place of bread in various faith traditions and to bake, as well as ‘Weaving Women’s Wisdom’ - a creative rug making project and touring exhibition.

The new building will provide facilities for more community projects and initiatives, while meeting spaces will enable the building to be used by partner organisations.

A number of measures have been introduced to make the building more environmentally friendly, including Photo Voltaic (PV) panels on the roof and LED lighting throughout.

Peter Mojsa, grants officer for Allchurches Trust, who attended the official opening of Touchstone’s new premises, said: “It was fantastic to see and hear first-hand the positive difference that Touchstone is making to inter-faith relations, not only in Bradford but also regionally and nationally in and outside the Methodist church. I’m delighted that Allchurches Trust’s grant has helped their dream of a new premises come to life so that even more people can benefit from the great work they do.”

Barbara Glasson, Team Leader at Touchstone, added: “Thirty years in the same house is a record for most families, but for the Touchstone interfaith family, it was time for a move. But not very far, because neighbours matter to Touchstone.

“The new building offers plenty of space for Touchstone’s work to grow and for creative partnerships with Abigail Housing and Beacon Bradford to flourish. It will also offer conference facilities, a counselling service and a beautiful quiet room. Many thanks to all who have helped us in large and small ways, especially the Methodist Insurance Fund and Allchurches Trust.”

Touchstone’s new premises is also currently hosting a fascinating exhibition, ‘Extraordinary Drawers’ - a photographic exhibition which unveils what’s inside our drawers to give a glimpse into the everyday lives of ordinary people. Cards next to the photos provide poignant, emotive explanations of why the contents mean so much.

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