The Pilgrim Trust has been funding The National Churches Trust for over 60 years, supporting projects to address urgent structural repairs in historic churches across the United Kingdom. In 2017 The NCT launched their Maintenance Grants Scheme with a grant of £150,000 from the Pilgrim Trust. The scheme aims to shift the emphasis away from repairs to dealing with problems in churches before they become severe and cause the loss of historic fabric.

By shifting the focus to preventative maintenance and proactive small repair, the NCT and the Pilgrim Trust hope to save at risk historic fabric, and also save churches large unnecessary repair bills that could have been avoided had small problems been tackled earlier. The crucial importance of regular maintenance in keeping heritage faith buildings open and serving their local communities is now recognised as a key factor in longer term sustainability.

The Pilgrim Trust grant enabled the NCT to offer grants to 92 Grade I and II* places of worship to help to fund recommended maintenance and minor repair works with a total of 149 buildings having been helped so far. The funding also helped with offering grants to deliver the innovative MaintenanceBooker service, connecting churchwardens and volunteers responsible for looking after historic churches with high quality contractors. The service is currently available across England and Wales.

The Pilgrim Trust has jointly funded and enabled micro grants to support a partnership project to test the value of drone surveys with the Ulster Historic Churches Trust. The first two years of the project has helped 16 buildings to carry out a condition survey and establish a maintenance plan. This strong partnership to encourage congregations to adopt a more planned and proactive approach to looking after their buildings will grow with a grant from the Pilgrim Trust of £200,000 in 2019. This will allow the National Churches Trust to offer more grants for maintenance, and undertake a final year of the maintenance and inspection programme in Northern Ireland.

Images with kind permission of the National Churches Trust