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Meeting the Needs of the Community: Chapter 2: Introduction

2.1 Background: A church in need of repair

1. St Winfrid Church, located on the main Southampton to Salisbury Road (A36), in the town of Totton (Figure 2.1), began in 2014 an ambitious project to reach out to the local community.

Figure 2.1. - Location of St Winfrid (Source Ordnance survey)

2. The church, named after St Winfrid (Boniface) who resided at Nhutscelle Abbey, Nursling, was designed by the famous church architect Nugent Cachemialle-Day, and was listed as a grade II building in 1987.

3. The current ecclesiastical parish, Totton Team Ministry, has only been in existence since the late 1970’s. The parish began as one large parish centred on St Mary’s Church, Eling. The parish was divided into two in 1836, when on 22 December, Royal Assent was given for the area north of the current railway line to become the parish of North Totton (London Gazette, 1837), although the church building itself remained at St Mary’s, Eling. The parish gained a further church building in 1855/6 when permission was given to build St Matthews Church at Netley Marsh (London Gazette, 1855).

4. The original parish was further sub divided in 1872 when the parish of Colbury was formed following a disagreement between the parishes of Eling and Marchwood over boundaries (Page, 1911). The parish of North Totton remained for a further sixty years when it was divided into two, St Winfrid, Totton and St Matthew’s Netley Marsh (London Gazette, 1937). The parishes of Eling, St Winfrid and St Matthew were, together with St Anne’s at Calmore, formally re-joined as a team ministry on 29 September 1978 (London Gazette, 1978).

5. St Winfrid’s was built in the late 1930s. Nugent Cachemialle-Day was commissioned in 1936 to design a new church for the new parish being created in 1937. His design created a church that from the outside appeared to look like an early Italian basilica and on the inside a church dominated by arches (see Figure 2.2).

Figure 2.2 – a view of the arches inside St Winfrid church

6. Due to the age and lack of maintenance of the building, the deterioration of the building was beginning to manifest itself and seriously affecting the ability of the church to operate. During the storms that hit the South Coast of England from mid-December 2013 to February 2014, water damage was sustained to the structure of the church, compounding previous water damage that had resulted from poor ventilation and porous bricks. There was therefore an important need to weatherproof the building to prevent further damage.

7. Whilst repairing the building was considered important, being a grade II listed building, church members felt that the community could be better served by utilising the space within the church.

8. A project group, formed by the incoming Team Rector, identified in 2015 that the most appropriate way of meeting the needs of the local community was using the arts, especially through music. This came, in part, from identifying projects such as those operated by Union Chapel in London (Union Chapel, 2018).

9. The plans for St Winfrid (Black & Steed, 2018) were, therefore:

  • · Provide a first-class concert and conference venue of interest to a 30-mile radius.

  • · Address social isolation through diverse events, fostering active communities.

  • · Address employability of young people through links with the local sixth form college and local businesses.

  • · Undertake inter-generational working – through music, working with computers, homework clubs, in the pre-school and role play areas.

  • · Provide work experience, internships, and apprenticeships in areas such as our music studio or community café.

  • · Credit Union and debt counselling.

  • · Domestic violence awareness.

  • · Other support groups including accessing disability benefit.

  • · Art workshops.

  • · Work opportunities for those with additional needs.

  • · Pre-school.

  • · Uniformed organisations – Guides, Brownies and Rainbows.

10. It is important at this stage of the report to ask the question what happened because of its influence on the solution? To date the project team that had been established to scope and oversee the project, have not succeeded in accomplishing many of the objectives. The reasons for the lack of success are subject to conjecture and will be discussed in a later chapter.

11. What is not subject to conjecture, is that in agreeing to fund the difference between the Heritage Lottery Grant given to complete the structural repairs on the building and the total cost of those repairs, the Diocese of Winchester, through the provision of a loan, have forced changes on the parish which will result in changes to the structure of the parish, enabling everyone to go forward.

12. St Winfrid will become a separate parish, be required to become a registered charity, and accept a ‘church plant’. St Anne’s and St Mary’s will form another new parish and St Matthew’s will join with Copythorne.

2.2 Objectives

13. The leadership of St Winfrid took the view in 2015/16 that the overall direction that the project should take was to address the issue of loneliness believed to be present within Totton, adopting one of the national government’s main social policies at the time. At the time, no clear research had been carried out to support this view, which was rectified in 2017 through the church instigating a more detailed survey.

14. The conclusion of the survey supported the view that loneliness may be present in Totton, but the researchers did not carry out an in-depth study of the national statistics, either the 2011 census or the 2015 Index of Multiple Deprivation. If this had been carried out it is possible that the researchers may have identified that whilst loneliness may have been an issue, poverty was manifesting itself throughout the town. This report aims to correct that failure.

15. Chapter 3 briefly explains some of the methods used in obtaining the data that supports this report. It examines the methods adopted within the questionnaires, and how the 2011 Census together with the 2015 and 2019 Index of Multiple Deprivation were interrogated.

16. Chapter 4 investigates the plans of St Winfrid to turn the church into a music hub. It establishes that failure to produce a business plan and a project plan in the early stages of the project, not only left the project team and ultimately the church membership wandering in the wilderness, it also prevented the parish from identifying serious weaknesses in the plan that made the project difficult to deliver.

19. Chapter 5 examines in detail the information provided through the 2011 Census, enabling a better understanding of the demographics of Totton and the individual political wards within the town.

20. Chapter 6 identifies and discusses the needs of the town. It begins by examining the results of the three questionnaires and what the public believe is important for the town. The chapter then examines the results from the 2015 and 2019 Index for Multiple Deprivation, and any underlying data. This identifies that three key indices, income, education, and crime, are manifesting themselves either in areas where there is a high concentration of social housing, or general areas of the town.

21. Chapter 7 discusses the possible solutions that the church can implement to resolve these issues. It argues that whilst dealing with the manifestations of poverty are important, the current models used by churches is not sustainable. What is required is for the church to bring in experts in their field to join the church, live and work within the community (self-funding), and with the church membership become a highly trained team dealing with the signs and symptoms of poverty within their community.

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