Update - August 2020
In September last year, St Matthew’s Church launched its “Legacy Project”, a vision for the future of St Matthew’s as a building and the way in which it can serve the people of Walsall.
In January 2020, the Church Council and its Legacy Project Committee were successful in getting through the first step in the Heritage Lottery (HL) funding process with a successful Expression of Interest for work totalling £4.5 million, to include all the repair work required to windows, roof and re-ordering/refurbishment of the ground floor of the building. In addition, a substantial part of the funding was for two people to be employed enabling the church to be open throughout the week and for heritage/education visits to be supported. That does NOT mean we have got some money at this stage! – merely that the funding body sees merit in the idea and would like to see the idea developed. HL is keen to see the idea of a performance venue and a heritage site for Walsall come to fruition, linked to education and training. Unfortunately at the end of March, all Expression of Interest stage applications were withdrawn due to the Covid-19 emergency, so unfortunately we will have to begin the process again when HL funding reopens, possibly early next year.
When we submit a new Expression of Interest, it must clearly show we have made adjustments to reflect the “new normal”, as well as taking on board a number of suggestions made by the funders. The church already has new Covid-19 arrangements for private prayers and one Sunday service at present, with suitable measures in place for safe use. We hope we will be in a position to submit a new Expression of Interest application as soon as Heritage Lottery permits, possibly early next year.
However, work on developing St Matthew’s as the focus of a Heritage Area for the town is continuing. We are pushing for funding through the My Town scheme where the church has potential to trigger regeneration in Walsall. Other avenues of funding are being explored. Increasingly volunteers are becoming involved in cleaning up the Church Hill Conservation Area as a community facility for the town and to raise civic pride, adding to the works by Walsall Council on the improvements to the town centre.
The church always values input and feedback about its work. If you would like to know more or contribute as a volunteer or financially, please do get in touch.