Claire Walker, CEO of the National Churches Trust, Michael Murray, head of church support at the National Churches Trust and Luke March DL, chairman of the National Churches Trust, with the MaintenanceBooker logo.

A new website that makes it easy for churches and chapels in Yorkshire and the Humber to look after their architectural heritage has been launched.

MaintenanceBooker www.maintenancebooker.org.uk was set up by church buildings support charity the National Churches Trust to help churches and chapels avoid having to carry out major repairs to their buildings by helping them carry out regular maintenance.

The website provides an online one stop shop where churches and chapels can book accredited contractors for services including gutter clearance, tree maintenance and inspecting lightning protection systems.

Maintenance is critical to ensuring that historic church buildings are kept in good condition and run in the most efficient manner. However, based on research into the challenges churches face in maintaining their buildings, the trust has found that some struggle to identify appropriate contractors, are unsure what maintenance they need and do not have volunteers able to perform maintenance.

 MaintenanceBooker is a response to these issues and is designed to make it simple for churches and chapels to plan, book and pay for essential maintenance. It will also help them save money as it is more cost-effective to look after roofs, masonry and other parts of a building regularly than to carry out expensive repairs.

Users can access the following services, with plans to add more in the future:

Rainwater goods maintenance (including gutter clearance)

Lightning protection system inspection

Tree risk assessments and surveys

Tree surgery maintenance services

All contractors registered with MaintenanceBooker will provide a fully professional and value for money service. The selection criteria for contractors include experience working with churches and historic buildings, appropriate qualifications, references from completed works; and having adequate levels of insurance in place.

MaintenanceBooker is being launched in Yorkshire and the Humber, but plans are being developed to extend the service to other parts of England and Wales.

As well as churches and chapels, organisations tasked with looking after non-ecclesiastical historic buildings can also make use of the MaintenanceBooker.

Luke March DL, Chairman of the National Churches Trust said: “The National Churches Trust’s new MaintenanceBooker website, which we are launching in partnership with 2buy2, makes it easy for churches to carry out essential maintenance and keep their buildings in good repair.

“The website, part of our Heritage Lottery Fund supported ‘Yorkshire Maintenance Project’, will help overburdened church wardens, volunteers and clergy to identify and book professional help to maintain their buildings, thereby helping prevent the need for expensive repairs and saving them for the future.

“Churches, chapels and meeting houses are at the heart of communities in Yorkshire and the Humber and are a treasure trove of architecture, history and faith. The National Churches Trust’s new MaintenanceBooker website will help them continue to play a vital role in the life and wellbeing of local communities for many, many years to come.”

Rob Kissick, CEO of 2buy2 said: “Supporting churches in using their resources wisely, and encouraging them to be good stewards of both their buildings and finances, lies at the core of our service. We are delighted to be working on this long term project with the National Churches Trust to provide easy access to good quality contractors at reasonable prices through MaintenanceBooker.”

If the cost of the service is a problem for churches, the National Churches Trust, with its partner the Pilgrim Trust, can offer grants to cover 50% of the cost of the first gutter clearance service. Churches with small congregations or limited financial means are eligible to apply for these grants, but as there are only 200 grants available each year, an early application is advised.

The trust is also piloting a Maintenance Grants programme to help churches with any additional repair works identified through the MaintenanceBooker service. For example, if a gutter clearance report identifies loose roof tiles or flashings, there are grants of £1,000 to £2,500 available to help churches address such small faults before they become  expensive repairs.