Culloden church "blown away" by funding success

The Barn Church in Culloden, near Inverness, has successfully secured funding of £9,239 from the Scottish Government's Adapt and Thrive Fund to develop their audio-visual capabilities and facilitate live-streaming - £2,239 more than their original request.

Rev Mike Robertson Barn Church Culloden
Rev Mike Robertson, the minister at Barn Church in Culloden, feels “renewed confidence” in their plans as a result of their funding success.

The Adapt and Thrive programme 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. It supports organisations to reflect 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.

Rev Mike Robertson, the minister at the Barn Church, and Peter Logie, an elder who led with the funding applications, originally applied for the funding on 27 October last year, and were fortunate to find out about their success on 10 February.

Mike feels "renewed confidence" in their plans to strengthen the church's audio-visual (AV) capabilities and, most importantly, increase their financial stability as a church, during the Covid-19 pandemic – and beyond.

"We were blown away by the fact we were given so much support to make the best of our application. So, it felt quite extraordinary to be offered more than we had applied for from Adapt and Thrive," Mike said.

"Our Kirk Session agreed what we felt was the maximum reserves we could afford to allocate to AV as one of a number of fabric needs, but it was several thousand short of the cost of a comprehensive upgrade. So, we made some applications, stating our planned contribution in each. When approving our award, Adapt and Thrive - supportive of our aims - offered to cover the majority of that shortfall."

The funding will now allow the Barn Church to obtain a brand new high-spec audio system and a fixed camera system, enabling live-streaming and the recording of services, but also enabling them to bring in additional revenue from conferences, meetings and activities within their main space, the New Barn.

"Thanks to Adapt and Thrive's support, we are now also able to upgrade other aging parts of the system on the visual side, including a live video feed to large TVs in the two other main spaces of the building for overflow," Mike added.

"It wasn't the AV equipment that won Adapt and Thrive's support for our project, we think, but its potential.

"The vastly improved quality will help facilitate not just an online option for Sunday services going forward, which itself is a huge benefit particularly to those who, for health reasons, can't make in-person church as regularly as they would like. We will also be able to offer a live link - for example to local care homes and hospitals, and quite possibly all sorts of other activity groups as well, not just worship services."

The Barn Church is continuing to source external funding to further upgrade their land and buildings, and plans to develop a community café, improvements to capacity, a Changing Places accessible toilet, a 70-space car park and a community garden.

‘Step out in faith and see what God does'

To all those who are thinking about applying for funding for their church but are feeling overwhelmed at the prospect, Mike has the following advice:

"When we looked at the costs compared with our resources, the decision to attempt some funding applications wasn't filled with enthusiasm but rather seemed a long shot. Yet, here we are, having exceeded the target!

"So, we'd say to any church considering funding applications, and dreading the process, wondering ‘who has the skills and time to do it?' Give it what you've got, even if only a little. Step out in faith, and see what God does.

"We highly recommend Adapt and Thrive and encourage others who apply to listen to their advice as they really know their field. They have someone to work with you and help redraft some areas of your submission. In a way, they act as translators of the applicant's vision into a language that funders can catch and support it. There are some tedious steps, and a fair amount of work that the treasurer will need to be involved in, but the outcome, if positive, can be beyond all expectations."

David Williams, the Church of Scotland's grants manager, who began in his new role in January, said:

"In February we issued a call-out to churches and presbyteries alerting them to the Adapt and Thrive funding being available, and we've so far had 126 enquiries.

"This fund makes us consider the ‘business aspect' of Church: how can we invest in changes to adapt to the impact of Covid-19 and thrive with stronger finances in the future?

"As we can see from Mike's story, the benefits of going through the application process are clear. I encourage churches to seriously consider what changes they might want to make to build back stronger after Covid-19, and to submit an application.

"If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me."

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.

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 the end of 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.