The Revd Canon Caroline Dick with project worker Pam Barmby - in St Michaels and All Angels newly created flexible space discuss the project with members of the projects committee during lunch at their recent AGM.

 The Revd Canon Caroline Dick with project worker Pam Barmby - in St Michaels and All Angels newly created flexible cafe space inside the church being used for lunch during their recent AGM.

The Revd Canon Caroline Dick with project worker Pam Barmby – in St Michaels and All Angels newly created flexible cafe space inside the church being used for lunch during their recent AGM.
A campaign which has restored a historic County Durham church and made it more of a community asset has helped more than 400 people in a year. St Michael and All Angels in Witton Gilbert, North Durham, received Heritage Lottery Fund finance as part of a £262,000 project to widen use of the 800-year-old church and the adjoining nature reserve. The first four phases of the work have now been completed including repairs to the roof, a new toilet, a kitchen/meeting room, as part of the church’s Breathing Space health and well-being project, which involves organisations working with a range of people, including those dealing with people affected by mental health issues. The final stage of the restoration including work on the flooring, heating and seating has not yet started. The project takes advantage of the church’s setting next to a nature reserve and run courses such as art and relaxation, along with healing sessions and teaching people about wildlife. People to benefit include homeless people and those with addiction problems as well as elderly people from the area. Vicar the Reverend Canon Caroline Dick said: “The building has been transformed over the past two years, which has enabled the Breathing Space project to take flight. “We always said that we wanted our work to include people on the margins of society and we have done that. The project has been a success and we have every confidence moving forward.” Project Worker Pam Barmby, who is leaving the post to live abroad, said: “The aim is to improve health and wellbeing and we have used the stillness of the beautiful 800-year-old church to bring that about, offering something that is often lacking in modern life as well as engaging with the outside areas surrounding the church. “We have worked with more than 400 people, which is a lot. They have spanned the age range, including people who have found challenges in their life through reasons such as illness or disability and age. We provide opportunities for them to learn new skills.”

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