Volunteers give Old Town church a major makeover

The group in front of the mural they created
The group in front of the mural they created

A church hall in Hastings has been given a makeover after 18 volunteers from AmicusHorizon came to its rescue.

When the group arrived at St Mary’s Church in High Street, they found a hall looking ‘tired and dull’.

Now the venue has been given a stunning transformation following the team’s hard work which included painting the walls and ceiling, repairing stonework around the ornate windows, cleaning fans and lights, and creating a stunning mural.

AmicusHorizon’s DIY SOS programme offers a group of unemployed and low waged volunteers the opportunity to learn DIY and decorating skills over a five-week course.

The participants who helped St Mary’s Church gathered for a celebration event on Tuesday, December 16 where a presentation was held to mark their achievements. Mayor Bruce Dowling presented them with their certificates of achievement, home decorating kits and vouchers to use at Brewers Decorating Store.

Former volunteers also gathered to say farewell to a project that has made a difference to communities like Eastbourne, St Leonards and Bexhill.

Father Seamus Stapleton, of St Mary’s Church, made an extra donation towards the work at his church, and was left beaming with pride afterwards.

Describing the hall, he said: “It had been looking tired and dull, but now it looks absolutely brilliant. The work has been done to a high standard and we’ve really enjoyed having the volunteers here.”

Participant Denise Osborne said: “My confidence has definitely gone up and I’m feeling very proud. I’ve now got something extra to put on my CV as well.”

The Big Lottery supported DIY SOS programme has been running in East Sussex since 2012. During this period the programme has engaged 277 people in practical DIY training. A total of 110 people have progressed into further learning, volunteering and employment, and 47 have achieved their CSCS (Construction Skills Certificate Scheme) qualification to help them gain employment on construction sites.

Councillor Dowling said: “The hall is looking fantastic. The whole scheme is brilliant and all credit to AmicusHorizon for the amount of work it has done with this project over the last three years.”

William Miller, community development director at AmicusHorizon, said: “I’m so proud the DIY SOS programme has led to 13 community venues being transformed. It’s been fantastic to see so many volunteers learn new skills and gain confidence along the way. Everybody who has taken part in the programme should be extremely proud of their achievements.”