Accessibility works are coming to an end at the Monton Unitarian Church in Salford.
The Monton Unitarian Church is being renovated to allow disabled members of the public to access the premises easier. The renovations made are also part of the process of preserving the building which is going to be 150 years in five years time.
Reverend Anna Jarvis has taken over the accessibility project and mentions that:
“The whole ethos of Unitarianism is openness and inclusivity and welcoming everybody; which we do very well as a congregation”.
She continued to say: “if you’re able-bodied you’d have no problem walking in. Getting in in a wheelchair was a nightmare. We had an old metal ramp that you could put into position, but it was not very nice-looking and not very safe to walk up so we said right, we’re going to fix it.”
Anna elaborates on the procedure of the accessibility works that have been taking place over the past 18 months:
“What we’ve done at the front is level everything, move the pews back a bit- so that we now have a lot more space. It will eventually all be carpeted, and everybody will be able to get all the way across”.
She mentions that during service, people with disabilities were unable to be seated within the crowd and always had to be sat behind the pews, so they created space for two wheelchairs between the pews “so that people in a wheelchair can sit and be next to their family or friends and be part of the congregation”.
Photo Credits: Anna Jarvis
A disabled toilet had to be created in the entrance of the church as the toilet currently available is inaccessible to people with disabilities and could not be modified. The toilet also offers a baby-changing station.
On top of all of this, the church’s heating has also been updated, and helps preserve the fabric of the building.
As part of the accessibility works, a ramp is also being built, however it needs more time than the other renovations.
“We’re actually building out the whole of the front steps so that we can then run the ramp along the front of the church towards the carpark”.
Anna wants to turn the church into a community centre like the Monton Memorial Hall and utilise its premises to host community events.
“This building is very underused, and we want it to be as much of a community centre for Salford as that building. The other benefit of having cleared the space at the front is it makes it much more suitable for concerts, play readings, art displays – all sorts of things can now happen in here that couldn’t”.
Anna says that she has been working on the project for roughly 18 months now and is excited to see the works coming to an end.
“It’s really exciting actually, it seemed to take forever to get all the permissions in place and all the red tape that had to be got through, and then when the building works started, for weeks it felt like nothing was happening.
“And then, all of a sudden, thing just suddenly started appearing around the place which was really exciting.”
The accessibility works, apart from the ramp, will be finished by the end of this week. The ramp will be finished in the near future, but the exact date is still unconfirmed.