An overarching success throughout the course of the project has been the way in which St Paul’s have managed to meet an enormous and immediate challenge. Supported by the generosity of the HLF, the Heritage Engagement Project team, in particular, have exhibited strong leadership, teamwork and perseverance.
A major theme that has emerged from this reflective process has been that the St Paul’s Church community has been prompted to think more deeply and more carefully about its own heritage. Looking to the future, the church hopes to be ever more welcoming and open. They hope that it won’t just be a case of things happening in the building, but that people will continue to engage with the building more and more.
- The program of Heritage Engagement project events has seen a vast number of people come through the church. An estimate of over 500 people, including attendees and volunteers have been directly engaged with the heritage of the church, with many self-identifying as ‘more engaged’ in light of their experiences.
- The spirit of spontaneity and flexibility has meant that a number of unexpected projects have come to fruition with much success, in particular, Revd. Bernadette Hegarty’s sponsored climb of the church roof. While this has raised the profile of the church enormously, it further demonstrates a sense of empowerment within St Paul’s Church to raise funds (over £5,000) by their own (creative!) means.
- While numerically significant, the individual events have seen the engagement with the heritage of the building of people both from within and without the congregation, from a range of cultural backgrounds and ages . A number of events, specifically the mosaic workshop, were particularly successful in being able to cater to a broad range of people and interests and engage them with the heritage in a real and creative way..
- The Open House weekend was enormously successful, with 240 visitors, many of whom had not been in the building before. They responded very positively to the tours and guided walks on offer, demonstrating the effective manner in which information was presented and disseminated and the skills learned by tour guides.
- As well as seeing new relationships develop within the community as a result of the initial consultation, St Paul’s Church has been able to build on existing relationships, such as that with the Twentieth Century Society and Stitches in Time and the local school. The Sponsored Climb engaged the community and beyond with the heritage of the building.
- The project has succeeded in increasingly engaging and empowering the congregation, particularly in its own fundraising efforts. While some members of the congregation would frequent the building perhaps only for Sunday services, a notable core are now becoming increasingly involved in other ways, developing and making use of their specialised skills. One member of the PCC notes that ‘people have opened up, just as the building has.’
- The project enabled volunteers to learn a range of heritage related skills: giving tours of the building, website design skills, publicity skills, management skills, developing literature, research skills to name but a few.