Churches across Scotland continue to benefit from Adapt and Thrive funding

Church of Scotland congregations are encouraged to consider applying to the Scottish Government's Adapt and Thrive programme, which will remain open until Wednesday 30 June. So far, 27 congregations have made successful applications, receiving a total of £458,818 to help them "build back better" following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rev Carl Irvine, the minister at Inverurie St Andrew's Parish Church in Aberdeenshire
Rev Carl Irvine, the minister at Inverurie St Andrew's Parish Church in Aberdeenshire, secured £9,200 for audio-visual and livestreaming facilities.

Inverurie St Andrew's Parish Church in Aberdeenshire is one such church which has benefited from the programme, securing £9,200 in funding for audio-visual and livestreaming facilities to enable enhanced participation in worship services and life events.

"Like many other congregations, the restrictions that had to be imposed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic made us re-evaluate our audio-visual and livestreaming capabilities," said Rev Carl Irvine, the minister at Inverurie St Andrew's.

"It was clear that what we had could be greatly improved. This grant will enable us to do just that. It will allow people who, for whatever reason, cannot physically come into the church building to access, and participate in, our services, life events and other activities.

"We would like to express our sincere thanks to David Williams, the Church of Scotland's grants manager, and the Adapt and Thrive team for all their support."

Accessibility improvements at Uphall South Parish Church

Uphall South Parish Church in West Lothian secured funding of £55,000 from Adapt and Thrive to increase digital accessibility and flexibility in their building space.

David Cameron, the stewardship convenor for Uphall South Parish Church, said:

"Our building sits right at the centre of the local community on the main street but, at the moment, is used only as a church and mainly on a Sunday morning. That is what it was originally designed for.

"With the coming of Covid-19 and like most congregations I'm sure, with our buildings having to remain closed, we lost all income from our lets and could not hold any fundraising functions.

"Then, in February we got an email from the Church of Scotland central office telling us about Adapt and Thrive and we agreed that it was probably a long shot but the best opportunity we might have to move us forward.

"We had some ideas about how we could make the building more accessible and flexible which would allow us to serve the needs of the local community better and also generate additional income.

"The form was duly submitted and, within days, our advisor Lynda contacted us and said this was a good start but that we needed to add a lot more before submitting it.

"Over the next three weeks we created a ‘COVID Recovery Plan' and a projected cash flow document, which were largely our own work. Lynda helped us tweak it in the right places and was very supportive, although cautioning us not to get our hopes up as there were many applications.

"We submitted the application on 20 April and were thrilled to receive an email on 17 May confirming a grant of £55,000 had been awarded to us.

"We are proposing with the redesign to remove all the pews, level the flooring, upgrade our sound and light systems and provide live-streaming facilities. The building will become a fully accessible, flexible community venue which will complement the facilities already available in the area.

"Along with our weekly worship, we are hoping the venue will be used for small to medium-sized meetings, conferences and live events with seating for up to 150 people – perhaps even to be used as a community cinema. Although we already have a good foothold in our community established over many years, we think this will significantly improve our profile and encourage many more people to use our buildings."

Extended bereavement support at Richmond Craigmillar

Priority Areas' church Richmond Craigmillar in Edinburgh have also secured funding of £7,070 to increase bereavement support as part of their connection with the Richmond's Hope child bereavement charity, which their minister Rev Liz Henderson co-founded.

Rev Liz Henderson, minister of Richmond Craigmillar Church
Rev Liz Henderson, the minister at Richmond Craigmillar in Edinburgh, is using the £7,070 grant from Adapt and Thrive to extend the vital work of Richmond's Hope, the children's bereavement charity she co-founded.

"We have been looking for some time at working in tandem with Richmond's Hope (the child bereavement charity that we started) to provide support for their parents in addition to the local community," Liz said.

"Our grant application was based on piloting two bereavement support groups and training for others in the future. We also asked for funding to conduct a feasibility study around creating a more sustainable future for our church through a greater provision of bereavement support.

"The Adapt and Thrive process was excellent. After we submitted our form the help that we received from their advisor was first-rate. We had totally messed up our cash flow budget and their advisor helped us to sort it out.

"The funding team also pointed us towards Just Enterprise who, following a separate application, are now providing support for our café project as it works out its future after the pandemic and in relation to the church's shifting focus on bereavement support."

The Barn Church in Culloden also secured £9,239 to develop their audio-visual capabilities – £2,239 more than they applied for originally.

David Williams, the Church of Scotland's grants manager, encourages churches to explore if the Adapt and Thrive funding could work for them.

"We are delighted to be seeing a growing number of successful applicants covering a wide range of different ideas that are being funded, such as the feasibility study around bereavement support groups at Richmond Craigmillar and the adaptation works at Uphall South Parish Church," said David.

"Please contact me if you are considering making an application so that I can help you craft your initial submission."

Apply for the Adapt and Thrive programme

Adapt and Thrive is part of the £25m Community and Third Sector Recovery Programme announced by the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government on 2 September last year.

The programme forms part of the wider Scottish Government Third Sector response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and aims to support organisations across the third sector to adapt to the challenges presented by Covid-19 and build back better to thrive in the future.

Organisations are encouraged and supported to reflected on their current operations and determine which areas need to change, flex, innovate, or grow in order to be resilient and financially sustainable during and post Covid-19.

On 24 February the Scottish Government confirmed additional investment for the Community and Third Sector Recovery Programme, which will allow Adapt and Thrive to continue until Wednesday 30 June this year.

The programme is delivered in partnership by Firstport, Corra Foundation, SCVO, Just Enterprise, Community Enterprise and Social Investment Scotland.

If you wish to consider applying for Adapt and Thrive funding on behalf of your church, you can find out more, fill in an application form, and access support and guidance on the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO)'s website.

Some other possible sources of funding are listed on our Covid-19 funding page.

For tailored support and advice with your funding applications, the Church of Scotland's Grants Manager, David Williams, is available to answer any queries you may have.