TV makeover to transform church space into teenage housing

Wed 11 Sep 2019
By Heather Preston

A church building in Blackburn has been given a TV makeover. The parish rooms of St Silas' in Blackburn are undergoing a transformation as part of BBC programme DIY SOS.

The team, lead by presenter Nick Knowles, has been working to create supportive living accommodation for 16-18 year olds.

Local homeless charity Nightsafe, who receive funding from Children In Need were approached by the organisation in January about a potential DIY project.

 

St Silas Church wanted to re-purpose its parish rooms to better serve the local community and, having worked with the homeless charity in the past, offered the space to Nightsafe.

Rev Sheelagh Aston is the vicar at St Silas' and told Premier they were inspired by the gospel of Luke to give the space to the work of Nightsafe.

Referencing Luke 10:3, she said: "Jesus says, if you've got two buildings, two coats, give one to somebody else. And that really spoke to us.

"And we thought, in real terms, we don't need the parish centre, it could be given over to a charity."

The project gained the interest of the BBC after Nightsafe shared they would be partnering with a local church to help the homeless.

Rev Aston said the show's producers were excited to feature the church's commitment to social action.

"The producers realised that this is quite a unique product and that the Church is playing quite a strong role in it. They've really been quite encouraging to us, to speak up and say this is as much a Christian project as it is a settler's project, it's a meeting of communities."

 

Aston says the media attention has helped to highlight the good news of the Church and has helped her to connect with her local community better.

"The Church is not just here for christenings and baptisms and when you feel nostalgic at Christmas, we're here 24 seven. The Church does an incredible amount of volunteering work. We have masses of resources that we can and do deploy freely to our local communities.

"It shows people on a large scale how the Church can and are working in the 21st century to deal with 21st problems.

"I've met more people from my parish in the last week then I have in the three years I've been here. So, it's about making that relationship very real, very tangible."

 

Aston says the project will give dignity and a sense of belonging to the teenagers they will be housing:

"They're going to know that people in their local community actually care about them. To know that the place that they're living in has been converted and put together by local people giving up their time."

The transformation will be officially revealed as part of a special broadcast for Children in need in November.

 Listen to Rev Aston speaking with Premier's Heather Preston here:

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