Saint Silas Church has served the local community in Pentonville since 1863. Our geographical parish encompasses some 3,500 households in a deprived area of London. Today we support lively children's work through our Junior Church, and host end of term events for local schools. Our congregation has people of all ages, from young families through to people in their eighties, many of whom got involved as a result of the special care provided when they came to Saint Silas for a wedding, baptism or funeral.
We are not just focussed on helping the local community by providing church services, though. In the Community Hall, which is an integral part of our church building under the same roof, we host a weekly drop-in for toddlers and their carers; we are home to three local Alcoholics Anonymous groups; several orchestra and music groups put on concerts for local people, especially on Sunday evenings; several fitness groups meet weekly as does a puppy training group; family gatherings are hosted several times a year; and we are home to the local Christian Police Association. It has been estimated that over 400 people old and young use our facilities each week from our poor but thriving local community.
Our vision for the future is to grow our resources to serve children, the elderly and those in need in our part of Pentonville, inspired by our faith in God and drawing strength from the sacraments of the church.
We Needed a New Roof
We desperately needed a new roof. Several times a year parts of the church were flooded by heavy rain, and the beautiful new bathrooms for our hall and church needed extensive repair after a downpour in summer 2008. Large numbers of slates were loose, not just letting in the water but also causing draughts which make our heating bills awful. Patching up was no longer economical. The experts said we needed a new roof. If we delayed, the water damage would have become more and more frequent, and the repair and heating bill would have been unsustainable. The new roof should last for decades and decades.
The Opportunity - Solar Power
About the time that our roof problems became acute, our young people, community hall users and church members embarked on an educational project to reduce our carbon footprint, both in the building and at home. The project initially ran for six weeks, in partnership with Islington Council Green Living Centre. Having learnt about our impact on the environment, we embarked upon a greener approach. The community made energy-saving pledges, exchanged old light bulbs for energy-efficient bulbs and an energy audit was carried out on our building to help us look to the future.
We discovered we could upgrade our heating and lighting requirements with the use of advanced solar-voltaic tiles incorporated within our roof structure. Churches have big south-facing roofs. They're perfect for generating solar power. The latest solar technology is completely different from what you may previously have seen. In fact they are so well disguised to look like real tiles that you may well have seen it and not noticed! If we include the right proportion of solar technology in our new Welsh slate roof, as well as stopping the flooding and the cold draughts, we can generate an estimated 47% of our 26,400KWh/year power requirements and make predicted savings of 7,027 kg CO2 per annum. The UK Government is committed to an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 and, as the Diocese of London has said "projects like Saint Silas Church's are paramount to the challenge to combat climate change". Just think how green that would make us! But over and above this, we want to promote the environmental benefit and cost savings of going green. As a good example to other community organisations we could promote solar technology whilst enhancing our community space for local people.
In December 2008 the Diocesan Advisory Committee agreed to our scheme and in March 2009 Islington Council granted us planning permission.
£190,000 approx for roof replacement and stonework repairs
£130,000 approx for solar technology
£50,000 approx for professional fees
£370,000 approx total costs
We would like to acknowledge the following generous funding from trusts, foundations and statutory funders, in addition to the fruits of our fundraising efforts and the kind donations of private individuals:
£103,200 Islington Climate Change
£65,484 Low Carbon Buildings Programme
£15,000 Richard Cloudesley's Charity (Apr 09)
£15,000 Richard Cloudesley's Charity (Feb 10)
£10,000 Garfield Weston Foundation
£10,000 Number 1 Trust Fund
£5,000 John Booth Charitable Foundation
£4,000 Richard Cloudesley's Charity (Nov 08)
£3,000 Islington West Area Community Chest
£2,000 Edith Thain Trust
£2,000 London Heritage Trust
£2,000 Lady Elizabeth Hatton Charity
£1,000 All Churches Trust
£1,000 Church Union
£1,000 Clerkenwell Charities
£1,000 Morris Charitable Trust
Please support us as we continue to raise funds to repay our Diocesan loan.
How to Support the Big Solar Project
To contribute to the cost of the new roof, you can make a one-off or regular payment by standing order, direct debit, bank transfer, cheque or cash. Click here to download slate sponsorship form
and post it with your payment to the Church Administrator, Saint Silas Church, Penton Street, London N1 9UL.