St Jude’s Grade II listed church building was built in 1875 to provide a place of worship and to meet the changing needs of a rapidly developing Plymouth population. It has served the local congregation and community well for over 140 years as a church, but along with our Halls, it is limited in its ability to serve current and future generations for anything other than Sunday worship. We are keen to work with and for our local community, but our buildings restrict us so much now. A pilot project in partnership with our local GP’s, Councillors, Housing Association etc – St Jude’s Community Hub Cafe is thriving quickly showing there is a need, but it is limited in its scope and is just a foretaste of partnership that can be available if we can fulfill the vision for this project.

This process is often called ABCD – Asset Based Community Development – using a local asset to enable a community to begin to transform and thrive utilising local folk as volunteers. Many volunteer run projects can start, but they do need a building to work from. Currently many of the larger potential funders are avoiding financing buildings and want instead to give towards running costs and staff for projects, but this project is about providing the asset that those volunteers need so that it can be sustainable long term. Often buildings such as ours might get funds from heritage bodies to stay as they are – but this isn’t about heritage and staying the same – its about changing to keep a local low income community alive and thriving, Please do read further to see if you can be excited by it in the same way we are…

We hope that, as with the grand stately homes and the history that is told through their various extensions and upgrades when they were living buildings, we hope that folk will see the living history of this wonderful building through its many stages of life as it has served its community from one era, to the next, to the next. Its structure is being well preserved. The designs have been very rigorously investigated through heritage groups and the listings process for permissions. The resulting new internal re-arrangement will honour the past, while presenting a series of flexible spaces for the whole community to be able to use, not just the church congregation. It is the church members who have seen the vision and given so generously, raising on their own before any grants were sought, over £800,000 to benefit the local area.

A copy of the history of St Jude’s Church, “The Master Builders”, can be downloaded here.


We do have two church halls, each over 100 years old, whose facilities are restricted. While we still manage to include giving up to 200 under 18’s a safe space each week as well as providing an Ofsted approved Pre-School for under 5’s, we are unable to offer the community the facilities it really needs until we change the church, the largest potential space within the community that currently can only really be used for church Sunday services. There are no toilets in the building so a short walk is needed to one of our halls (not at all suitable for example when a school uses us for a festival or similar) It has very inadequate heating (we are brought forward some additional heaters and new power supplies in time for the winter of 2017 that were planned for the main project) and there are no catering facilities. There is difficult disabled access for some. It is a standard, pewed, badly lit, uneven floored, Victorian church.

This project will make the church a community asset 7 days a week.


Now, St Jude’s is ready to undergo major renovation, making it ‘new’ again to respond to the needs in its local area, both as a place of worship and as a functional, accessible building for the wider community, including:

Three different sized meeting rooms, transforming the traditional ‘church’ interior into a multi-functional, flexible, well-equipped space

A fully equipped catering kitchen

Up to date audio visual facilities with the added facility of high quality streaming

Superfast Broadband & WiFi

A café / meeting area

Fully disabled accessible toilets

Wide and flat disabled access in all areas

Car Park


In an area with very few facilities for the community, these major improvements will enable the church to provide:

Purpose designed spaces, hosting anything from small meetings to conferences for 200

Training days

Youth work

Family events

Safe play for toddlers

Spaces for the community to use

A space to host events from outside agencies

St Jude’s is in the heart of an inner city area of Plymouth with some areas of the parish in the bottom 10% of national indicators for deprivation.

The area is short of community spaces and meeting places, and St Jude’s is ideally placed to meet those needs. However, the buildings severely restrict the quality, scope and delivery of every aspect of this provision, and make growth and expanding the capacity of these facilities virtually impossible. Due to our old buildings, many in our community are under-served by us, although we have the will and the capacity in every other way to deliver far more.


Since 2006, we have been working hard to achieve a design acceptable to heritage bodies and raising funds, to convert this potential into reality:

£1.620 million is the estimate (2019) for this whole site renovation project, to provide a fully functioning flexible community asset

51% of funds are already raised, 49% is still required. £415,000 has now already been spent that includes professional fees of over £200K to get us to the level of detail suitable for tendering that was required of those taking the heritage decisions. We have also undertaken preliminary works such as moving an organ that would have blocked the new main door, roof repairs, replaced heritage cast iron guttering and drainage and re-siting of services.

£400,000 of the total was sacrificially raised from the congregation of c.100 people, the other c.£400 came from selling two buildings the church owned.

c.£800,000 is remaining to raised

When we began this project it was normal for match funding to be available to help a community building. Unfortunately things have changed – many of the large community funds for buildings have ceased and only now provide for staff etc on projects. (Which is a shame as all those projects still need buildings within their communities to operate from) Others want to see 75% raised before they will engage with the project. The length of time it has taken (we started in October 2006), due to the level of detail required to get the consents for this listed building, meant not only did inflation hurt us, but the financing landscape changed. We now need to find special partners for the currently missing third quarter of c.£400,000 that may enable us to approach more common Trusts for the final £400,000 – or one significant friend who loves what the local church can do for their community who can help us even more.

The ongoing financial sustainability of the buildings is already assured, St Jude’s are a generous church and the upkeep and ongoing running will come from our general giving – we don’t need to raise funds from this refurbished building. We also have a commitment from the Diocese of Exeter to partner with us assisting with cash flow during building work, dependent on sufficient extra Grants and other funding being secured.

We have been approaching Trusts and other Grant making bodies to help secure the remaining finance we need, to ensure this project is finished in good time and to a high standard that will adequately provide local needs for many years to come. But we have hit this 75% hurdle and this church community have reached their limit on giving. (£400K in the last 5 years from just c.100 people)

This church’s congregation have been sacrificial in their giving because they have a vision to provide for their community, now we have all our permissions and can build it, we hope some partners might join us to make this wonderful set of old buildings into a revitalised and living resource for a community that has so few gathering spaces. We need help now.

if you want to find out any more, do feel free to get in touch through our “Contact Us” page.

 If you think you know of any individual or Trust with a heart for local community who this may excite or envision, please do pass this onto them. Thank you.