LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Catholic churches in England and Wales are set to receive a lifeline from the UK government.

Historic churches will be eligible for grants of up to £1 million ($1.3 million) each from a £1.57 billion ($2.03 billion) Culture Recovery Fund set up to help organizations during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The Catholic Trust for England and Wales (CaTEW) is one of 445 heritage organizations across the country to be helped by the program.

“We’re extremely grateful to the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage for this grant of £3million to help with the maintenance, upkeep and repair of a number of our Grade I and II listed buildings in England,“ said Archbishop George Stack of Cardiff, Chair of the Patrimony Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

In the UK, “listed buildings” are those structures that are protected in law due to their historical or artistic importance.

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“The recent closure of churches during lockdown has impacted seriously on the many planned projects which have been unable to proceed. A significant number of churches have simply not had the resources to carry out much needed repairs,” Stack said. “This grant will give encouragement and support to local congregations determined to preserve and enhance these churches which are so important a part of our national heritage.”

The UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said it was essential that we preserve our heritage and celebrate and learn from our past.

“This massive support package will protect our shared heritage for future generations, save jobs and help us prepare for a cultural bounce back post-COVID,” he said.

Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s Chief Executive, also praised the project.

“These grants range from giving skilled craft workers the chance to keep their trades alive to helping heritage organizations pay the bills, and to kick-starting repair works at our best-loved historic sites. The funding is an essential lifeline for our heritage and the people who work tirelessly to conserve it for us all, so that we can hand it on to future generations,” he said.

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