A church in Bradford has benefited from significant restoration work by offenders on community payback as it seeks to open up to the wider community.
The team has delivered more than 5,000 man-hours renovating the Westgate Baptist Church, Manningham, home to the Celebration Gospel Choir led by Colin Williams, the renowned director and recording artist.
Work began on the church 12 months ago when Deacon Stafford Kelly approached West Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) for help. West Yorkshire CRC is responsible for supervising offenders and ensuring they comply with their sentence and the orders of the court.
Dave Finney, placement supervisor at West Yorkshire CRC, said: “The first phase of the renovation is almost complete so that the church congregation can once again take pride in this beautiful building and open it up for the whole community to use and appreciate.
“We started in the main church by removing any loose plaster, re-plastered the walls and the painting the whole room with some very intricate paint work on the columns. The team, which have done a great job, painted the entrance hall, taking the main front doors back to bare wood and staining and varnishing it.”
The dining room and kitchen area were also refurbished, and the team continue to maintain the grounds outside.
Mr Kelly said: “In its heyday we had a Boys Brigade, drama group, worship group, brownies but it dwindled. By opening our doors wider to the community and not just for worship we have saved our church.”
One of the successful new ventures at the church is its Wednesday soup kitchen which serves up a hot lunch to vulnerable people.
Mohammed Bashir, placement coordinator at West Yorkshire CRC, said: “Community Payback schemes like the one delivered at Westgate Baptist Church provide a means by which offenders learn new skills to support their rehabilitation and future employment prospects, and also put something back into their local community.”
*The Community Payback Team in West Yorkshire would like to hear about other projects which residents think will make a real difference to their community. More About Community Payback