It’s a new year and a new beginning for St Thomas’ Church in Swansea, as work is about to begin on the first phase of its transformation into a £1m community hub.
As well as a place of worship, St Thomas’ will also become home to Baby Basics, a volunteer-led project aiming to support new mothers and families who are struggling to meet the financial and practical burden of looking after a new baby, the local foodbank and Credit Union.
It will also house a hall, a community café which will be run on a not-for-profit basis and will provide opportunities for young people to develop skills, and toilets and shower facilities for Swansea Night Shelter users.
Priest in charge of St Thomas’ Rev Steven Bunting said: “It’s going to be incredible, a one-stop hub for the community that will be the place to go for hope, help and spiritual needs.
“This is the first phase of a three-phase plan which will see the church transformed from somewhere that’s open once a week on Sundays into a place that the whole community can use. The church will be on the first floor – on a mezzanine floor – together with a heritage centre and downstairs we’ll have a hall, a café and somewhere for all the different organisations and activities.
“We already run Baby Basics, a foodbank and credit union – as well as providing free community breakfasts and lunches, opening our doors for the night shelter and large-scale events for our local schools – but this will allow us to bring them all together under one roof.
“The community café will offer opportunities for people from the night shelter – and people who have left schools without any qualifications – to develop new skills, and it will be a place to hold our breakfasts and Christmas lunches.
“The hall will be available for hire to the community and the catering facilities will mean people can get married upstairs and have their reception downstairs.”
St Thomas’ will be closed for three months from today (Monday, January 7) for the first phase, which will include re-roofing part of the church and re-pointing the building.
The project – which has received grants from the National Churches Trust, Cadw and the Enovert Community Trust – is being managed by the same team behind Teilo’s Community Cwtch at St Teilo’s Church in the city.
St Thomas’ will reopen on March 29, and work on the second phase of the transformation is planned for August.
“When people see the tower at St Thomas’, I want them to see that it’s a community hub,” Rev Steven said. “The place where people naturally go, for friendship, companionship and for support.”
For those who have a connection to the church and would like to help with the project, a Friends of St Thomas group has been launched.