The Bishop of London has visited St Botolph without Aldgate to see plans for a new community centre for workers, tourists and residents in the heart of the City of London, made possible thanks to a £3m grant from the City Churches Grants Committee.
Bordering Aldgate Square, the centre, due for completion in 2020, will become a hub for community activities in Aldgate, an area that has undergone significant redevelopment over recent years.
St Botolph’s already works in partnership with the City of London Corporation, both of whom are also jointly funding an Integrated Community Development Officer to help the community make the most of the centre.
The plans showed a large hall that can be divided into three for multiple use, as well as local amenities including a café, office space and a fully equipped kitchen.
Developed in consultation with local residents, the plans reflect the vital role that shared spaces play in an area like Aldgate, where there are so many layers of community. It is St Botolph’s hope that, through the provision of a new shared space for social activities and events, relationships between workers and residents of all ages will thrive.
Natalie Coughlan, a resident of Aldgate, stressed the importance of the project, saying:
“We urgently need more space for meetings and birthday parties, and for additional youth services.”
Upon visiting the site, the Bishop of London, The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally DBE said:
“St Botolph Aldgate has always been a church that reaches out to, and serves its community. Over the last few years the Church has worked closely with and partnered with the City Corporation over the regeneration of Aldgate Square, with Dorsett Hotels over a new hotel adjacent to the church and many others to see the Aldgate area transformed. It is now the turn of the church itself to be transformed with a new hall and facilities.
“Transformation is the business of the Church. As we approach Christmas, we are reminded that a new born baby comes to this world, to transform it, and all our lives. St Botolph proudly proclaims this message to all every day, and I pay tribute to Laura Jorgensen and all those involved in making this long held dream a reality, and look forward to many visits to come.”
The Rector of St Botolph without Aldgate, The Revd Laura Jørgensen said:
“We were delighted to welcome the Bishop of London to St Botolph’s to show her all the changes to the area and the exciting plans for our new hall. We’ll be working hard over the next 18 months, listening to the residents, City workers and others who pass through Aldgate to ensure we create a vibrant and thriving space where the community can come together.”
Catherine McGuinness, Chair of Policy and Resources, the City of London Corporation said:
“The award of this grant to St Botolph’s is very positive news and we look forward to working together in partnership to ensure the new community hall builds on the recent transformation of the local area, including the newly refurbished Aldgate Square.”