A £25,000 grant from Benefact Trust's Methodist Grants programme helped transform an outdated, deteriorating, and unattractive Liverpool Methodist community centre into an inviting, energy-efficient building for community use and worship.
The new Prescot Centre is the largest public building in town. Before the redevelopment, Gwyn Birch, Joint Property Steward, described it as being in a terrible state and unfit for purpose, “Our church members didn’t want to marry here, and several people requested their funerals were held elsewhere.”
Transformation borne of necessity
In 2009 the original 600-seat Prescot Methodist Chapel was forced to close for major building repairs. The congregation moved into the adjacent community centre for ‘the duration’. Two years later, nearby Whiston Methodist Church was closed without notice and so Whiston joined with Prescot to form one new church, with a congregation of more than 100, temporarily worshiping in Prescot’s community centre.
Efforts to restore Prescot’s original chapel proved unviable and in 2015 the now-joined congregations were permitted to sell both chapels and redevelop the dilapidated 1960s-built community centre to make it fit for worship and community use.
The redevelopment began in 2015 with the creation of a welcoming, glass-fronted entrance, housing a new community tearoom. In 2019, the Methodist Grants programme helped to provide increased storage, a new meeting room for group use, a new roof, double-glazing, energy efficient power and heating systems, and general refurbishment throughout the building.
Prescot and Whiston Methodist Church’s new home has fostered a renewed sense of life, hope and commitment to the community. Many groups based there are run by the church, or in partnership, and enthusiastically supported by church volunteers.
The friendliest place in town
Prescot Centre is home to a weekly drop-in centre for asylum seekers and refugees from Knowsley, helped by the Prescot Fellowship of Churches. Volunteers provide a shared meal, English conversation classes and medical advice, and a small shop offers free clothes and food at a fraction of supermarket prices. “Supporting asylum seekers is so rewarding,” Gwyn continued. “A group of around fifty come regularly, including many children. It’s one of the best projects we’re involved in, along with the Foodbank.”
“The tearoom is wonderful, and it’s enabled us to welcome so many new people to our church. It’s pleasant, inexpensive and we’re getting a reputation for being the friendliest place in town. People don’t mind coming on their own – they know somebody will take time to talk to them.”
“We can’t express how grateful we are for the grants and donations we’ve received towards the creation of our new church and community hub. And I want to express our deep gratitude to the Methodist Grants programme, in particular the Grants Officer, Paul Playford. When Paul came to visit as part of the application process, we were so uplifted. His belief in our huge daunting project was amazing and made a huge difference to our own belief that we could succeed (when we weren’t sure if we could). His support was as important to us as the grant funding we received.” - Gwyn Birch, Joint Property Steward.