Church makes a mad dash for cash in bid to transform run-down community hall

Rev Linda Tomkinson is cheered on by Freedom Church members
Rev Linda Tomkinson is cheered on by Freedom Church members
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Worshippers at a ‘homeless’ Blackpool church have vowed not to give up on their hopes of transforming a run-down building into a thriving community hub – and have already raised £50,000.

The Freedom Church in Mereside hopes to transform the old St Wilfred’s Church hall, on Langdale Road, into a state-of-the-art community church.

It is estimated £150,000 is needed to repair the building, which closed down six years ago, and after a year of tireless fund-raising, the people of Freedom Church say they are proud to be officially a third of the way there.

Lizzie Haydon, youth worker at the church, said: “The whole community is coming together and has got on board on with this incredible project.

”We have raised nearly enough to get the roof fixed – between £40,000 and £50,000. But that’s only about a third of what we need.

”We want to make it a community hub. Somewhere where people can drop in. We’re going to have a cafe, a laundrette and drop-ins for people who need help with mental health issues, job centre meetings and different things.”

The Freedom Church currently holds its services in the Tarnside Community Centre on Borrowdale Road.

It was hoped its congregation would have raised enough to start work on its new home by this Christmas - but the predicted cost of the build turned out to be higher than first thought.

Its latest fund-raising bid saw vicar Linda Tomkinson lead the congregation in a 24-hour cycling marathon to raise more than £1,600.

She said: “It was amazing; far beyond what we were expecting to raise. The weather was amazingly mild throughout the night for December, and it was a long slog but we were really impressed by how many people from the local community came along and had a go.

“It was a lack of sleep as we were doing the rota throughout the night that meant I found the next day a little difficult, but it was all worth it.”

Lizzie said: “The church members are especially excited by the thought of being able to provide something for the community, and as a church we don’t really have a home, so we’re looking forward to doing more things in our very own space.

”We’re hoping within the next 18 months the money will be there.

”Planning permission for the new roof has already been approved and we’re hopeful that in January work will start.”