Marsh Awards for Innovative Projects

These Awards are run in partnership with The National Churches Trust and recognise congregations running innovative community project in church buildings, made possible through the installation of new facilities such as meeting spaces, kitchens, toilets or improved access.

The Awards are designed to show the positive impact installing these facilities has on churches and local communities and on harnessing the energy and enthusiasm of volunteers.

Through this partnership we recognise one main award winner and one runner-up winner. Nominations can be made via the National Churches Trust website. Entries for the Award are judged by a panel of representatives from the National Churches Trust and the MCT, as well as colleagues in the sector.

Hackney Church Lighthouse project and Holy Trinity without-the-walls 2019

WINNER: The Lighthouse Project, St John and St Luke at Hackney

The Lighthouse Project offers a range of activities delivered through innovative partnerships that meet the needs of and bring multiple benefits to the local community in Hackney. Some of the many activities on offer include a drop-in lunch, a Foodbank distribution centre and a night shelter for the homeless. The Project also currently runs one of London’s busiest knife amnesty bins, with over 1,000 blades being deposited every year. The church has also partnered with the new nearby Hackney Church Brewing Company, whose profits help to fund the church’s work with the homeless and vulnerable. They estimate that they help 800 people per week and have created a range of volunteering roles within the Project. Both churches have been undergoing major restoration works and have opened new community facilities all through collaboration with the local community and congregation to ensure that they are meeting local need.

RUNNER UP: Holy Trinity Outreach Project, Blacon, Chester

The church runs an outreach project which aims, through a café and courses, to provide a safe, welcoming space for all in the community, and through that to develop relationships which make people feel encouraged, enabled and empowered to fulfil their potential, and to improve their health and wellbeing. The project targets socially isolated and vulnerable people who come to the service through social prescribing and can then be signposted to relevant services, thanks to the collaborative relationships that the project  have built with other agencies. The project has also set up an accessible transport programme to enable more people to be involved in the activities that might not be able to without help with transport. The renovations at the church have enabled the project to open more days per week and for a bigger number of people and bigger range of activities. Users and volunteers at the Outreach Project are involved in the planning of activities and are asked to input what they would like to see the project achieve.

Previous Winners

WWII Audio Tour and Olly's Friendship Room

WINNER: WWII Audio Tour at SS Peter, Paul and St Philomena (“Dome of Home”), Wirral

The church has developed a free Audio Tour as part of the Education Pack they have available for visiting Primary Schools. The Tour is made up of true to life scenarios written and performed by members of the congregation which help show young people what happened during the Blitz and how faith helped in difficult times. The Tours can be accessed via Smartphone and tablets from QR codes located around the church and visitors are encouraged to wear a 1940s style hat so they can be fully included in the fun! Thanks to Wi-Fi in the church, the tours are available at all times and since the launch in September 2017, hundreds of people and school children have taken part.

While developing the tours, the church was in close contact with schools and the local community to make sure that they were developing something in-line with what they wanted. The church building underwent some major repairs and had to close in 2008 due to the cost of these repairs, but thanks to an enthusiastic local campaign it reopened in 2012 and two HLF projects have now been completed. Local people regard The Dome as ‘their’ landmark church and this project, along with others which are being developed in the community, demonstrate its importance.

RUNNER UP: Olly’s Friendship Room at St Michael and All Angels, Upper Sapey, Herefordshire.

Olly’s Friendship Room was built as part of a rescue project for the at risk church and has become a space for the whole community to use. The aim of the project was to repair the church and provide a warm, comfortable meeting room, offering space for all kinds of educational and enjoyable activities for the whole community. The whole of the small, scattered, rural community were consulted as to what they wanted from the space and it was found that there was a need for a welcoming and accessible place for people to meet and socialise to alleviate isolation and loneliness in the community. Activities held in the room include an Astronomy Club and film nights and they are all volunteer led and run.

The Friendship Room is located at the back of the church and a number of other repairs were carried out, to the tower, the proscenium arch, stonework and other aspects of the building which were in desperate need. The project has bought the whole community together, even those who are not regular churchgoers, to make a space for the whole community in memory of one of their own who was taken too soon.

Playzone@Penzance and Home Community Café

Main Winner: Playzone@Penzance: St John the Baptist, Cornwall

The Playzone is open 7 days a week for at least for hours a day and provides a place for people to come with their children to play in a safe and exciting indoor space in an area of high deprivation in Cornwall. The project has been a real boost to the community and provided much needed employment and volunteering opportunities as well as a space which the community feels belongs to them.

Runner-Up: Home Community Café: St James and Emmanuel, Didsbury, Manchester

The project was established in 2015 with the aim of strengthening the community, valuing individuals and creating an inclusive and welcoming space. The café is a registered charity and is open from 10:30am to 5pm every day and the project also has space for a number of other community groups to make use of.


Space@St Andrews and the Recycles Club

Main Winner: Space@St.Andrew’s, St. Andrew’s Church, Blagdon

Space@St.Andrew’s is a space at St. Andrew’s Church in Blagdon, Somerset which runs regular projects targeting hard-to-reach groups of people in the local village. These include a toddler group, social groups for older people, Wi-Fi Wednesdays which support people with technology, and exhibitions for local artists. Before this space was created, the village did not have a community meeting point and therefore the project has had a great impact on the local population.

Runner UpRecycles Club, Salvation Army, Ilford

The Salvation Army in Ilford were awarded for running the Recycles Club. This project engages local people who may be homeless, unemployed or recovering from addiction in restoring old bikes to be be sold at low cost to the public. Participants are able to acquire training and professional skills and the project also has beneficial environmental impact.