Churches in Northern Ireland receive extra support for repairs

First Bangor Presbyterian Church, Main Street, Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland(Photo: Unsplash/K Mitch Hodge)

Churches in Northern Ireland struggling with the cost of repairs are to receive extra help.

The National Churches Trust is launching its new 'Treasure Island' project to support places of worship in the province. 

It will span three years, beginning this summer, with new grants from £500 to £10,000 being made available to help churches cover the cost of repairs and maintenance. 

The project will also offer training and mentoring to pastors and others responsible for the upkeep of the buildings to equip them with the skills they need to look after their places of worship. 

They will have the chance to learn a range of useful skills, like how to engage with tourism or write funding bids. 

One of the project's aims to increase the number of people who visit churches during their holidays or as part of day trips, with at least a hundred churches being added to the trust's ExploreChurches website.

The website serves as a one-stop digital gateway introducing would-be visitors to the architecture and history of church buildings. 

In addition to the National Churches Trust, the Treasure Island project is being supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Pilgrim Trust and the Department of Communities.

Michael Murray, Deputy Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust said: "The National Churches Trust is the UK's church support charity. It is great news that the National Heritage Lottery Fund and the Pilgrim Trust have given their backing and financial support to 'Treasure Ireland' .

"This project aims to change the dynamic of church heritage in Northern Ireland so that more churches and chapels can be kept in good condition and their architecture and history appreciated by more people.

"A big thank you to all our partners in Northern Ireland who have taken part in meetings of the NI Places of Worship Forum and who have helped to make 'Treasure Ireland' possible."