2010 AGM Conference "Churches, Housing & Rural Communities"

There were a number of experts in the housing field at the conference.  

Faith in Affordable Housing is a free online guide to the use of church land and property in developing affordable housing www.fiah.org.uk 


We must put localism into action or risk a greater crisis in rural housing and further breakdown in our rural communities, says the housing coalition

Housing Justice at a conference hosted today by Cumbria Rural Housing Trust and Churches Trust for Cumbria to tackle the problem. 

Dr Bert Provan, Deputy Director, Department of Communities and Local Government, making the keynote speech at the Penrith conference, will address the key issue of how the Government’s agenda for the Big Society and Localism could help rural communities find their own solutions.

The Churches, Housing, Rural Communities event will go on to explore how churches and land can be used for affordable housing and vital community uses. The leaders of the two largest Christian denominations in the county Rt Rev’d James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle, and Rev’d Richard Teal, Chair of Cumbria Methodist District, will give their vision of how the church can use localism to create sustainable communities. 

Housing Justice Deputy Director, Alastair Murray, said: “The conference today was an exciting development for us all. We know that we need to increase dramatically the supply of affordable housing. Churches are uniquely placed in the community to support this aim where they have surplus assets. Providing housing is a very practical solution to creating social benefit and preventing rural hardship.”

The Penrith conference on 13 October 2010 is the second in a series of Faith in Affordable Housing events being organised by Housing Justice with sponsorship from Quaker Housing Trust. Cumbria Rural Housing Trust and the Churches Trust for Cumbria have worked in partnership to bring a whole range of key players together, including delegates representing the churches, local government and social housing, people working in rural communities and private developers.

Gina Dowding, Director of the Churches Trust for Cumbria, said: “Church buildings can have a huge role to play in rural life.  Who they are used by and how they are adapted to meet the whole community’s needs is of vital importance in keeping communities together and maximising resources. This conference will help us work smarter together in the light of the current budget cuts across all areas of Government.”

Judith Derbyshire, Manager of the Cumbria Rural Housing Trust, explained that there were already excellent examples of affordable housing and community buildings in churches in Cumbria:  “Once they are no longer required as a place for worship, buildings such as school buildings can be adapted and used by the community for housing, meetings places, post offices and exhibition spaces, while still retaining their role as places of worship. We want to encourage communities to look imaginatively at how faith buildings can be used in the future.”

For further media enquiries contact Alistair Murray on 020 7920 6440, Judith Derbyshire on 01768 210264 or Gina Dowding on 07501 469 374