I very much suspect I wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for Nightsafe.Former resident
St Silas wants to go further, building a real relationship. When the church held a thanksgiving service for the opening of the house, both the residents and congregation learnt from meeting one another. They are keen to keep these relationships going, and a joint gardening project is in the works.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on Housing, Church and Community is investigating how churches can respond to local housing needs. [email protected] shows that this work is not only important, but also really beneficial for churches. With so many churches in a similar position, this could be a model for others.
- The church hall of St Silas (known as the Parish Centre) was let out to community groups. Since the narthex at the back of the main church building was reordered in the late twentieth century, its use directly by the church had been limited. This made the PCC question its missional use.
- The Parish Centre sustained some damage in recent years, and would have required considerable renovation.
- Nightsafe is a charity in Blackburn for vulnerably housed 16-25 year olds. They provide accommodation, as well as a day centre and other support, teaching health and wellbeing: https://www.blackburn-nightsafe.org.uk/
- St Silas and Nightsafe were introduced by Stephen Hetherington, a Methodist working on bringing empty buildings into use.
- St Silas rent the former Parish Centre to Nightsafe on a five-year lease (a condition of Children in Need’s donation) for market rent. At the same time, both St Silas and the Diocese of Blackburn donate to Nightsafe to allow the charity to develop a sustainable funding stream for this new project, effectively subsidising the rent on the new premises.