St Cyr’s, Stinchcombe, has become one of the first churches in the county to install an electric lift in the church building, providing step-free access for all.
Becoming a step-free church has been a long-held ambition for the Revd Fiona Crocker at St Cyr’s in Stinchcombe. Thanks to a collaborative community effort, the newly built accessible entrance was officially opened in a thanksgiving service.
Fiona tells us all about the ‘Open2All’ project and how it’s already benefitting the church and the community:
“When I arrived at St Cyr’s almost five years ago, I was sad to think that anyone in a wheelchair or who struggled with stairs could not enter our sacred space. At the same time, others on the PCC thought that those who needed a toilet nearby would also struggle to stay in our church for any length of time. So we began dreaming and planning, helped by the Friends of St Cyr who, along with the PCC, have made the ‘Open2All’ project work.
“It has been very much a collaborative process and a joy to get to know many more people in the village. While the faculty process was long and complex, with our plans needing revision and our patience tested, the ‘can-do’ nature of many on the project – from the contractor to the designer and so many locals who painted, cleaned and raised funds – helped us get to the finishing line.
“Being step free, with I think the first electric lift inside a church, save for the cathedral, means that no one is hindered in entering the church. For baptisms, weddings and funerals, there is full access to those in wheelchairs and pushchairs. And the installation of a toilet means we no longer have to rely on the good nature of neighbours for visitors who have travelled some distance.
“We also aim to be a place of welcome and hospitality for the community to use this space. The village has been very much involved with the project and we already have our first booking for a concert to be held in church.
“At PCC, we have talked about building the Kingdom and I see this as just one part of our vision, as we reach out and connect with more of the community outside the church walls. Will we be able to offer a place of refreshment for cyclists and walkers? Or a dry weather play space for families? All of this will need more work and locals to want to offer this, but it is exciting to see what might be possible. The PCC, along with the local community, are now looking at other ways in which we can extend our connections and welcome with the village.”
If you’re looking for a church which is accessible, try using the search function on A Church Near You to explore the facilities available in your area. If your own church is accessible, make sure you have updated the tags for your church, so that people can find you easily.