Gearing up to Giving Sunday

Inspired by passing the £100k mark, the project team are now working out how to get to £200k!

We hope we’ll get a good boost towards this from our Gift Day Sunday on 15 June. In the weeks before this service we will be handing out pledge forms and asking people to prayerfully reflect on how much they would like to give towards the new community hub – anything from £2 to £100 a month. We hope that many people in the church will be moved to give what they can.

We will also be talking to local businesses, to ask for their support. An article in 24-7 magazine will help us get the message out there.

If anyone reading this knows any local business that will be supportive – please do get in touch!

Our straw bale building needs the support of the whole church and community… we hope that you will join us in thinking about the part you can play in making it a reality.


£100k milestone reached!

Thanks to some sacrificial giving and great generosity our Straw Bale fund has now reached over £120,000.  That means we’re nearly a third of the way towards our initial fundraising target of £380,000.The figure includes a grant of £15,000 from the Church & Community Fund, but the rest has been mostly given be members of Holy Trinity Church.

Our next fund-raising focus will be the church Gift Day on June 15th.  However, what we also need now is to find some support from local business, the wider circle of Holy Trinity friends / former members, and some success with large grant applications.  Unless we have a large injection of external funding, it will be impossible to fulfill this project because the financial resources here in Tulse Hill are so scarce.

Could you become a Straw Stacker by donating £1,000 or more?

Click here to find out more.

We are of course putting together applications to various trusts, but it is difficult at this stage because the design is not finalised and fully costed, and the more a trust gives, the more detail they want from us. Meanwhile, of course, we continue to have various initial design expenses.

New Top for Straw Communion Table

Communion Table TopNow that our Straw Bale Communion Table is being given official permission by the Archdeacon of Lambeth, we need a more decent top for it, rather than the old bit of MDF we had knocking around the church basement!  So here’s the new top, with varnish drying in what was earlier a sunny window!

I wanted to use the project to experiment with some ideas:  the wood is ordinary osb, varnished.  I had an idea that it would complement the straw, and that in due course, we might want to use it for flooring in the hall.  It looks nice, but there are still some questions to be resolved about durability.

Then I thought I would make my own clay to fill the routed cross.  Since we are having the garden dug up for a new water main, there was plenty to hand.  The experience convinced me to buy ready-made clay plaster when the time comes.  There are lots of little stones in the average garden, and it’s jolly hard to get it to a workable consistency.

And then it cracked – which of course, is now part of the rustic design!

Church & Community Fund pledge £15,000!

Church & Community FundOur first bid for funding has been successful. The Church of England’s Church and Community Fund has awarded us £15,000. We bid on the basis that the process of self-building will increase community cohesion and enhance the church’s mission. We need to spend the allocation within two years. Thank you CCF – we’re making a good start!

Find out more about the Church & Community Fund here.

How to be a Bale-Builder

How to be a Bale-Builder

Becoming a Bale-Builder for Holy Trinity’s Neighbourhood Hub couldn’t be simpler. The cost of a delivered bale of straw is about £4.00 and to cover the total cost of our building we need the equivalent of about 95,000 of them!

To be a Bale-Builder, just decide how many bales you can contribute – it may be 3, 10, 30, 100, or even 1000. You can decide on any number. Multiply that number by 4, and that will be your contribution in £s.

Next, actually give the money. If it is a small amount you could donate by text. Otherwise, our preferred method is a direct bank transfer: details are here. If you want to give by card, you can do that through our Bmycharity page – though we have to pay a small commission for that.

Finally, find two other people you can persuade to also support the project.  You might even get them to find another two people each!  It might help if you give them one of our leaflets, which you can download here.

Once we’ve got most of our target fund of £380,000 we can start building.  At that point you’ll be able to actually join us on site, get training, and be a hands-on bale-builder!

Bale-Building Leaflet Published

leaflet-webOur new Bale-Building leaflet is now published and is beginning to be actively distributed. This tells you how you can support the building of Holy Trinity’s Tulse Hill Neighbourhood Hub.

The leaflet gives you background on the context, the commitment of Holy Trinity over the last 150 years, the size and viability of our amazing vision, and why community building with straw will make such a huge difference to so many people.

The principle of being a Bale-Builder is that you give something and find two other people to do the same.  You can download the leaflet here.

Archbishop becomes Patron!

Archbishop of YorkWe’re delighted to announce that the Archbishop of York, Rt Revd John Sentamu is to be Patron of our Tulse Hill Neighbourhood Hub. John was Vicar here in Tulse Hill for many years; he is warmly remembered and keeps in touch with a number of people. Several years before that he studied in Cambridge, where our current Vicar, Richard stayed with him overnight before an undergraduate interview.

Archbishop John  led and saw through the renovation of Holy Trinity’s main church building in three phases during the 1980-90s. He also initiated Phase 4, of which our current project will be the fulfillment. At that time, it was another Archbishop of York, Rt Revd Stuart Blanch who was President of the Appeal. Lord Blanch had been a former choir boy here at Holy Trinity.

Archbishop John says, “I am very pleased to let you know that having prayed and fasted about this project, I am very happy to accept your kind invitation.”

Now Give By Text – Free!

text-givingYou can now help build our neighbourhood hub commission-free when you give by text. This means we get 100% – yes 100% – of your gift, as well as 100% of the Gift Aid bonus, if you pay UK income tax.

It couldn’t be easier.

Simply text:   thsb14 £20 to 70070.

(Substitute your own donation, eg £5, £50, £500)

Your gift will be forwarded to our bank account.

You will also receive a reply text asking whether you would like to Gift Aid the amount. Please do so, if you are eligible!

If you pay your phone by direct debit monthly, your gift will be added to your bill – so be aware that your monthly phone bill may seem unusually large!

If you are on pay-as-you-go, please make sure there is enough credit on your phone card for your gift.

“thsb” stands for “Tulse Hill Straw Bales” and 14 indicates that we want to raise most of our £380,000 in 2014


This free service is provided by Vodafone in partnership with JustGiving.

New Artwork by Priscilla

site-smallerAt the end of January we laid out barrier fencing to show on site where the Hub will go. We were thrilled that our drawings on paper actually fitted where we thought they would on the ground! Over the following weeks the storms blew everything down, which was amazing.  I thought the holes in barrier fencing would prevent that.  Last week Priscilla Watkins, our Project Artist did this painting of the site, looking towards the church from the South West.  The foreground section with trees will be our toilet block.  Through the left hand gap between the trees you can see where our kitchen is planned. Somewhere at the far end will be our Hub entrance. The two yellow lines mark the walls of our strip of Upper Rooms in the roof space.  Click here to see a photo of the site from the other end.

Full Steam Ahead

Following the visit of the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) on 28 January, our straw bale project is moving full steam ahead!

The DAC spent a morning with Richard, Barbara Jones from Straw Works, a representative from English Heritage and members of the project team. After inspecting the site and asking lots of questions, Stephen Craven of the DAC wrote: ‘The Committee as a whole strongly supports the intention of the project, and commends the parish for taking environmental sustainability seriously.’

We took a moment to celebrate and then signed the contract with Barbara, who is now drawing up designs for the community hall and arranging for all the different surveys to take place.

The next important step is to plan our fundraising strategy. Hilary and Richard are working together on this, thinking of different ways to involve people from the community in the project. Would you like to become a bale builder? If you’re interested, ask Richard for a leaflet. If you have any other fundraising ideas just get in touch!

Church & Community Building with Straw Bales in Tulse Hill