More than £250,000 is already on its way to churches and Christian organisations all over the UK to help them connect with children and young people in their communities.

Allchurches Trust launched its £1m Growing Lives grants programme in May this year, which is aimed at helping churches build lasting links with local families and support the next generation to reach their potential.

Some 21 projects have received a share of £276,487 of funding in the first wave of grants to be awarded. These include St Martin in the Wood Church in Hampshire, which will use the money to buy laptops, revision guides and textbooks for a homework café, and the Fountain of Life Network Church in Norfolk, which plans to start up a Who let the dads out?’ group for local fathers.

Hemsworth Methodist Church in West Yorkshire, meanwhile, will use its £25,000 grant to help convert the nave of the chapel into a soft play area, to give children a safe place to play, and to provide a café that will enable the church to serve healthy meals to young families in an area that have suffered since the closure of the coal mines. The play area will also be run as a social enterprise.


Another organisation to benefit is the Transform North West Network, which will receive £25,000 funding to create Amazing Space’ – a place where young people aged 13 to 18 in some of the most disadvantaged parts of Merseyside can meet, with a place for worship also being created. The charity will also provide support with finding employment and accessing training, and offer help with addiction and mental health support.

And there’s more: Busbridge Church in Surrey will use its £12,500 Growing Lives grant to help fund the conversion of its yard into an enclosed space for youth activities, which local young people will fill with new equipment thanks to their fundraising. It will also create a drop-in café which will be open to the community during the day and available for teenagers to meet and take part in activities after school.

Sir Philip Mawer, chairman of Allchurches Trust, said: We are delighted with the response to Growing Lives so far, with applications from churches and charities representing many denominations continuing to flow in. It is clear the new programme is fulfilling a very real need in enabling churches to enhance their work with families, and we’re delighted to be funding a wide range of projects that will change lives and communities for the better.”

Allchurches Trust, one of the UK’s largest grant-making charities, launched the new programme after conducting a poll of more than 800 churches to gain an insight into the work churches are engaged in with 0 to 18 year olds. The research revealed that while more than two thirds of churches have five or fewer young people in their worshipping community, 96 per cent would love to provide more support and activities for them if they had the right skills and resources in place.

Meanwhile, some 82 per cent of the churches surveyed run activities for children aged 0 to 10, but only 58 per cent are hosting any activities for 11 to 18 year olds. And while 58 per cent rate their support for the younger age group as good or excellent, 41 per cent admit their provision for older children is inadequate.

The Growing Lives grants programme is still open for applications. Grants of up to £25,000 are available, and the amount depends upon the cost of the project and the level of need in the community, ranging from 10 per cent of project cost to 80 per cent. Churches can apply for a grant under this programme even if they have received funding from Allchurches in the last two years. You can find out more at www​.allchurch​es​.co​.uk/​g​r​o​w​i​n​g​lives