All Saints Wokingham is a Grade II listed church, renowned for its architectural and historic interest. The 12th century church has been at the heart of its community for as many years, serving the needs of local people.
With a population of 40,000, Wokingham is expanding rapidly with new homes being built, and it is anticipated that the parish will grow by 50% over the next 10 years. The church itself is located in the centre of Wokingham, adjacent to a large housing estate, much of it consisting of social housing with many residents receiving an income below the national average.
The church has become increasingly community focussed in recent years, building its Cornerstone community centre which is used to full capacity. Now there is an urgent need to develop the church building into a multipurpose space to provide support for the growing community on its doorstep.
With the support of Benefact Trust funding, All Saints will transform the interior of the church into a flexible public meeting space, a functioning venue for cultural and educational events, and a centre for discovering local heritage.
Works will include: removing the fixed pews, providing a new entrance, adding a servery, installing toilets, upgrading lighting and audio-visual systems, general repair work, and building a new self-contained room linked to the existing Cornerstone Centre.
The improvements will provide a base for local charities and community groups to use for pop-up events, and the church is also hoping to use the space to establish a community café and drop-in service.
The project, named spaceforall, will make a huge difference to the wellbeing of many families in the area; it will also secure the future of the church building as a vibrant and invaluable community asset.
The significance of this project was summed up by The Bishop of Reading, the Rt Rev Andrew Proud, who said: "These improvements are planned to ensure that this important and prominent building remains open and available to the community as a functioning public space, and place of worship, which meets the requirements of accessibility, inclusion, safety and energy efficiency; and the contemporary expectations of a public building. I wholeheartedly support the plan for the re-vitalisation of this building because of the increased benefits it will offer to the local community."