£3.5m plans to save Ipswich’s magnificent medieval church St Mary at the Quay, by transforming it into a mental health wellbeing centre are taking shape thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) development grant of £68,500, it was announced this week.
The development funding enables the East Suffolk Mind, the charity committed to improving the lives of people with mental health issues and the Churches Conservation Trust, the national charity protecting historic churches at risk to develop plans to save this Grade II* building.
ESM and CCT can then compete for a full HLF £2.8m award to bring the plans to life. The shared vision of the ESM and CCT is to bring St Mary at the Quay back into the heart the community as a wellbeing centre that everyone can use. St Mary at the Quay was closed in 1973 and is cared for by the CCT.
The transformation of the historic church will allow ESM to use the therapeutic value of heritage, arts and creativity and the unique environment and rich histories of this beautiful and restful building to help everyone improve the wellbeing of their mind, body and spirit.
Set in Ipswich’s regeneration area, a transformed St Mary at the Quay will provide a space for all the community including a workshop, performance and exhibition area for heritage and arts activity and learning as well as areas for alternative therapies; reflection and contemplation.
The building will also become a meeting point, where people can come together to learn, explore and exchange in activities touched and influenced by the unique heritage of the building and the site.
The CCT and ESM will also be partnering with New Economics Foundation – an independent think-and-do tank that inspires and demonstrates real economic well-being – to develop a new academic study that explores the links between beautiful buildings and the positive effect they have on our wellbeing and state of mind.
Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said: “This is a really exciting project which makes interesting links between heritage and mental wellbeing. The Heritage Lottery Fund’s initial support gives the green light to East Suffolk Mind’s development work. Whilst this is just the beginning of the journey to secure a full grant, we hope that by providing some additional upfront money they will be able to progress plans over the coming months.”
Jo Searle, East Suffolk Mind, said: “Mental wellbeing impacts on us all. The plans for St Mary at the Quay will help reduce the stigma attached to mental health issues by providing a space and services for everyone to address their mind, body and spirit.
“We are delighted that this project is being supported, and look forward to continuing the development work with the Heritage Lottery Fund and ultimately to deliver this innovative partnership project which will see both the rejuvenation of a building of such significant heritage value, and the provision of new and exciting well being opportunities for people in Suffolk.”
Loyd Grossman, Chairman, The Churches Conservation Trust, said: “We are thrilled that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given its support for our project at St Mary at the Quay. Not only does it enable us to save this historic church for future generations by bringing it back into the heart of the community but also provides an opportunity to explore the beneficial links between heritage, beautiful buildings and mental wellbeing.”
Source: Inspire Magazine