A once-struggling Blackpool church has been given a new lease of life after offering kindess and compassion to the town’s most vulnerable residents.
One year ago, the Blackpool Spiritualist Church, on Albert Road, was given 12 months to carry out vital repairs - or face demolition.
Following protests from the congregation, the church agreed to postpone the plans, and in October announced a renovation project that it hoped would save the historic building.
Now, church leader Ronnie Campbell says the church is looking forward to a brighter future thanks to efforts to reach out to the community.
He said: “Attendance is up about 30 per cent.
“We’re doing more for the community now. On Wednesday afternoons we have a tea and cake day where we welcome members of the community and get them talking.
“Over Christmas we worked helping the homeless in Blackpool. We gave them shelter at the church and had a proper Christmas dinner.
“We have got an outside team and they go out twice a week from the church, taking food and clothes to people on the street.
“I used to live in London and every morning I used to see the homeless on the streets, freezing cold, so it’s always been close to my heart.
“We are a church, we are a charity. We need to do things for people other than ourselves. I put it to the congregation and it just took off from there. Everybody mucked in.”
The Blackpool Spiritualist Church was founded in 1896 by famous spiritualist medium Emma Hardinge Britten and it was one of the first spiritualist churches ever to be built in England.
Last year, Mr Campbell said the old building needed around £70,000 worth of repairs to keep going.
Now, thanks to the hard work of local labourers who offered their services for free, only £30,000 worth of work remains.
He added: “We have had some plastering done, we’ve had the floors treated and the woodworm treated. We’ve had windows repaired. We still need some stuff doing but we are managing with what we have got.
“At the end of the day my mind was made up. I wasn’t ready to close the doors.”