Judith Sally & Jane write:
Since autumn of last year, our Meeting has been working on the request from the Genesis Trust to house its Lifeline Centre in the lower floor of the Meeting House.
Through a process of discernment we’ve reached agreement: the project will come to our building, Genesis will pay rent on the space they use and structural changes are taking place in the old flat to create space for the Lifeline office, storage for clothing, footwear and bedding and facilities for washing and laundry. The cost of that work is mostly being borne by Genesis; we are paying for items which benefit Friends as owners and operators of the building (e.g. improved fire escape, upgraded heating, better downstairs lighting).
The work is nearly done and … now the Christmas Market is about to start and they can’t actually move in! Never mind, as soon as possible after the chalets are dismantled and probably on Monday 19th December, Genesis Lifeline will move from the vaults under Bath Abbey to our building. The staff will move in a bit earlier to get the space ready.
Each afternoon, Lifeline visitors will use our Lower Room to warm up, socialise, use computers, meet counsellors, get advice and choose items from the stores. At the end of the afternoon, everything – except perhaps the sofas – will be tidied away and the room will revert to being a space for event hire e.g. yoga courses. On Sunday mornings our Children’s meeting will use the space as always.
The arrangement is that Genesis Lifeline can occupy the space for at least two years. At the end of that period we will review it. If it is working, if it meets our long-held and heartfelt wish to be a vibrant witness to Quaker values in the centre of Bath and if both parties agree we can extend it for a further year. If we discern that our other hopes for the building (being a beacon of democracy and inclusive culture, for example) can simultaneously be met through new uses of the Upper Room, there is the possibility that the arrangement will be extended further.
So begins an adventure in our vision for better use of our historic building. Fact fans will recall that in its time it has been a Masonic temple, two different sorts of non-conformist chapel, an art gallery, a menagerie – and a Friends Meeting House since 1866. All sorts of things still need to be worked out and we hope that we can continue to do it in the same Quakerly, patient, cautious way that gets things done.
Judith gives Friends a progress report on imminent arrival of the Genesis Trust’s Lifeline project after Sunday Meeting.
- We look forward to welcoming Genesis Lifeline officials to a shared lunch on Sunday 27 November.