Ipswich: Campaign to restore fire-ravaged St Michael’s Church reaches �13,000
ipswich: Donations of more than �13,000 have already flooded in to help salvage an historic church ravaged by a devastating blaze – just two months after the inferno.
St Michael’s Church in Upper Orwell Street was targeted by fire bugs in a catastrophic arson attack which left the Victorian building’s roof completely destroyed on March 7.
Facing up to the reality that the building was not insured has meant weeks of heartache for owners Jimas as they take stock of the ruins and vow to ensure their dream of a community centre on the site becomes a reality.
Muhammad Munwar Ali, chief executive of Jimas, said thanks to the generosity of the public and churches across Ipswich they have raised �13,000 since the fire.
That money has paid for the roof to be made safe and waterproof again, and it has given the charity breathing space to raise more money to transform the ruins into the community centre they dreamed of.
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Mr Ali thanked people for coming to their aid and he apologised to local businesses for the inconveniences caused by fire and the subsequent road closure in Upper Brook Street.
He said: “It is remarkable generosity and support from people. It gives us hope that our goal of raising �500,000 is achievable.
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“Jimas bought the church with the vision of restoring it to its original splendour and using it as a community centre for the whole of Ipswich.
“Our aim is to bring colour, vitality and rejuvenation to the street and to bring new businesses to the area.
“The arson attack has caused a huge amount of frustration, sadness and disappointment. No doubt it has set the project back considerably financially.
“However we have received a huge outpouring of support, it has been a fantastic source of motivation to continue.
“We are optimistic that our vision will be realised and have embarked on a massive fundraising effort to get the project back on track for the local community.”
Mr Ali said the plans are still to restore the church and open a community centre on the site.
He said despite fears it will become a mosque, the centre will be open to people of all faiths or none.
It is hoped the centre will house an internet cafe, study and meditation rooms, a day care facility and a function hall for local charities, organisations and individuals to host classes, parties, events, workshops and projects for vulnerable people.
Jimas need to raise �500,000 to transform the church.
Mr Ali added: “A lot of people think it will be a mosque. We have to dispel and allay that fear.
“It will be a community centre for the people of Ipswich.”
If you would like to help, call Mr Ali on 01473 251578 or visit him at the Ipswich Orego centre opposite the church in Upper Orwell Street.