VOLUNTEERS from St James Church, Devizes, have started work on turning an old school into a community hub.

The Noise, which is the practical outreach arm of the church, was out in force at the weekend doing everything from unblocking drains and gutting toilets to gardening and cleaning.

Noise co-ordinator Jenny Jones said: “Over 90 people aged from five to over 80 did a huge amount of work on the St James’ Centre.”

Project manager Ray Smith said: “Over 400-man hours were volunteered, saving the church over £5000 in costs. It is a real testament to how committed the church is to seeing St James’ Centre be used as a place that will help our local community flourish.”

The centre was purchased from the Diocese of Salisbury’s Board of Education earlier in the year and will be used by the church for the community work it does, as well as be available for agencies and charities who serve the needs of the community.

Keith Brindle, vicar at St James, said: “Because of our partnerships with many charities and support agencies, we are aware of the need for good quality, disabled accessible rooms, that are available on a flexible basis so that organisations can meet their clients and partners in the Devizes area.’

The centre, which includes disabled toilets, a shower room, a large commercial kitchen for life-skills courses and on-site catering, a number of meetings rooms of varying sizes and one large hall for bigger gatherings, as well as office support, will soon be available for community use.

Keith Brindle added : “The Noise weekend was both great fun and hard work. It’s been lovely to see everyone from the church get involved and some of us have learnt new skills and have had the chance to work alongside and get to know people from the church we didn’t know so well - that is one of the perks of working together during The Noise.

“We still have loads to do in the centre as well as some fundraising, not least for the lift needed to enable disabled access to the first-floor hall and meeting rooms. But I am confident that we can achieve this.”

In addition to the work done at the centre a smaller group, consisting mostly of younger children and their families, helped with autumnal tasks at Hillworth Park.

The weekend ended with a well-deserved hot meal in the church and a short celebration service at which over 70 people attended.

For enquiries about future Noise projects noise@st-james-devizes.org.uk

For enquiries about St James Centre contact vicar@st-james-devizes.org.uk