Teachers, parents and members of the community have come together to show support for the ongoing work of St Thomas’ Church in the Eastside of Swansea.
They decided to run a fundraising event to raise money for the church towards the redevelopment of St Thomas’ Church into a community hub. The fundraising night raised more then £3,000 and independently two other parents raised an additional £600 for the ongoing work of the church.
The church recently completed the first phase of work on the building, which involved the re-roofing of part of the church, the replacement of rainwater goods and re-pointing of the front of the church. Attention now turns to the internal reordering of the church.
Rev Steven Bunting, vicar of St Thomas’, said “We are absolutely overwhelmed by the generosity of the teachers and parents at St Thomas School. We have a close partnership with the school, with the shared aim of supporting all the children and families at the school to reach their potential.
“We are in the middle of seeking grants for the redevelopment of the church into a community hub which will protect the future of the building and transform it into a building to serve every member of the community.
“People in the community originally thought we had all the funding for the redevelopment but that unfortunately is not the case. We are still seeking nearly £700,000 and every little bit is helping us on the way to reaching that target. We are continuing to apply for large grants but it is essential for us to have the support of the people in the community to demonstrate to grant funders that this project is wanted by the community.”
Russ Dwyer, the head of St Thomas Community Primary School, said: “I am exceptionally proud of our staff at St Thomas Community Primary School, as well as people in the wider community, for their efforts in raising such a significant amount of funding for the St Thomas’ Church redevelopment.
“This collective effort though simply reflects the huge respect that the community has for Reverend Bunting and St Thomas’ Church. We look forward to raising more funds to make the future vision of the church a reality.”
And Laura Emanuel, a teacher at St Thomas Community Primary School, said: “St Thomas’ Church has been brought back to the heart of the community through the work of Reverend Steven and Reverend Rachel Bunting.
“Staff from St Thomas School organised a fundraising evening, with the help of family, friends and local businesses, and raised an amazing total of £3,020. Staff have continued to try and help out by raising money for the food bank that the church offers to the community. In addition to this, families wanted to give further support to the Buntings’ work and have raised an extra £600 so far.
“Fundraising continues as the Buntings tirelessly continue with these vital community projects. We would love to have as many people as possible join the Friends of St Thomas’ Church.”
The Friends of St Thomas’ Church has been set up to allow those who have a connection with the church to support its ongoing ministry, mission and redevelopmen.
Since 1885 thousands of people have attended worship, been married, baptised and confirmed in the church or received the ministry of the parish.
People can join by filling in the form on its Facebook page or contacting the parish office on 01792 455671.
The redevelopment of the church will include:
- The creation of a mezzanine second floor that will be home to a full-length worship space for Sunday worship, weddings, funerals and baptisms.
- A not-for-profit community café space with catering facilities for cooking lessons and school holiday meals. Providing training opportunities for young people who are out of work.
- The opportunity for families to host funeral wakes, wedding parties and baptism celebrations in the community rooms after the church service. Weddings and receptions can be in the same venue.
- A new home for its food bank, Credit Union and Baby Basics social outreach.
- On-site toilets for users including a shower facility for the Night Shelter.
- Underfloor heating to allow the church to be warm throughout the year.
- A large community hall that will be used by existing and new hall users.
- A new heritage, history and education area to serve the local community and local schools.
- Relocation of the Parish Office.
And be home to the all the activities that the church currently does to serve the community.
- A venue for Swansea Night Shelter for the homeless to sleep in during the coldest winter months, offering professional support, a safe place to sleep and hot food.
- Its weekly free community breakfasts and lunches attended by more than 100 people each week.
- Host large scale events for local schools like Christmas Through the Keyhole and Easter Explored that have been visited by thousands of children.
- Its two parent and toddler groups which help new mothers and prevent social isolation and post-natal depression.
- A weekly bereavement support group to help those people who are grieving, who are alone, who are widowed, who need company attended by over 30 people every week.
- Its food bank serves the local community and further afield every week with hundreds of meals given out every year.
- Its Baby Basics Charity has given out over 115 packages of essential items for newborn babies and mothers to give the most vulnerable a better start in life.
- Its Boys Brigade and Girls Association which now has over 85 children registered and meets for two evenings a week, helping develop skills for young people between the ages of 5 and 15.
- In the last five years it has helped over 300 families with funeral arrangements, joined over 50 couples together in marriage and celebrated at least 50 baptisms including in the sea in Caswell Bay.
- Its church works with both local school headteachers to serve the community through the Cwtch Charity, blessing families who are having a difficult time.
- It delivers bags of presents each Christmas to those who wouldn’t receive anything and every year it provides Christmas dinner for those who would otherwise be alone. Over the past three years it has delivered over 30 Christmas gift parcels and served food to over 150 people on Christmas Day.
- It provides hundreds of meals for children and families over the school holidays who may struggle without the provision of free school meals and provide opportunities for fun and games including its community cinema that has shown films to hundreds of people.
- It is about to launch its mentoring programme to transform the lives of children and help them reach their potential.
- It is an outlet for Celtic Credit Union giving people access to low cost credit and savings opportunities, avoiding doorstep lenders and loan sharks.
The photograph above shows Rev Steven with parents who raised £600 and, top, with Russell Dwyer, head of St Thomas School and staff who organised the fundraising night.