Builders are transforming one of Melton’s oldest buildings into a community venue for homeless and disadvantaged people, families and those needing support for emotional and mental health issues.
The old Baptist Chapel, in Nottingham Street, remains closed off to the public but the Melton Times was given an early tour of the renovations being carried out to turn into the Hope Centre.
Melton Vineyard Church is relocating to the site with its Storehouse food and clothing bank service being moved from The Fox, in Leicester Street, to a much larger area to the rear of the old chapel.
The front part of the building will be occupied by a number of activities such as exhibitions, coffee mornings and other community events and there will also be rooms set aside for the organisation’s Breathing Space, which is a listening service to provide emotional support for people referred by staff at the town’s Latham House Medical Practice.
A new lift is being installed to enable those with mobility issues to get upstairs to a new ‘loft space’, where meetings, family activities such as parent and tddler groups and small arts events will be held, and a shower is also being put in.
The front area of the renovated Grade two listed building, which dates backs to 1872, will be opened on November 1 with the Storehouse operations set to open early next year.
Neal Swettenham, a senior pastor with the church, told the Melton Times: “We have had lots of positive responses from people because they like the way we are bringing an old historic building in the heart of town back into use.
“We’ve had people coming up to say they remembered going to Sunday school in the old chapel and saying how interested they were in seeing what we are doing with it.”
Melton Vineyard Church has been operating in the town since 2008 and members opened their Storehouse project at the vacant The Fox pub four years later to supply needy residents with food and clothes.
“The new Storehouse area at the Baptist Chapel will be three or four times bigger than what we have at The Fox,” said Mr Swettenham.
“We will soon be able to do considerably more than what we have been able to do before.”
The original features are being retained by the architects although the conservatory, which was a late addition to the structure, is being removed.
Volunteers will staff the centre when it opens and Mr Swettenham believes it will play an important social and spiritual role in the life of the town, with the valuable continued support by local churches and businesses. Funding comes from members and from organisations such as the Samworth Foundation and Trent Vineyard.
He added: “There is increasing demand for our Storehouse services.
“We started off just packing a few food bags and it has now expanded to the point where we are giving away over 2,000 food bags every year.”