Gallery: St Michael’s Church in Ipswich set to open doors after arson attack four years ago

Muhammad Manwar Ali, chief executive of Jimas, the organisation that owns St Michael's Church is hop

Muhammad Manwar Ali, chief executive of Jimas, the organisation that owns St Michael's Church is hoping to open the hall in mid-April. - Credit: Su Anderson

A church that was destroyed four years ago in a suspected arson attack is set to open its doors next month.

The parish hall of St Michael’s Church in Upper Orwell Street, Ipswich is complete and ready for use but the main space still needs its floor laid and kitchen built.

Muhammad Manwar Ali, chief executive of JIMAS, the organisation that owns the building, said the restoration had been a result of the whole community pulling together.

Students from Suffolk New College have designed the kitchen and will be going to the church in the coming days to build it as part of their studies.

Mr Ali said: “We have had great support from all sorts of people, everyone has been very nice.”

Engineering students from One sixth form have also played a part in the church’s revamp, with pupils helping to clear the debris on more than one occasion over the past four years.

“It was lovely in terms of the party atmosphere and they worked really hard,” Mr Ali added.

This Saturday, members of a minority youth group that was set up by Sgt Darren Oxbrow from Suffolk police called, Young Black Males (YBM) will decorate the hoardings of the church with graffiti and street art.

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Around 10-15 boys, aged 14-20, will paint a mural that best represents the town.

Mr Ali said the ultimate aim of the restored Victorian church was to offer a place where everyone in Ipswich could call their own.

“The facilities allow for anything to happen, from reading sessions to karate classes, to mother and toddler groups and lunch clubs,” he said.

The Muslim education charity paid £350,000 for the site in 2011, which had been out of use for 10 years, with the hope of turning it into a community centre.

Mr Ali saved for 25 years to buy the church but was sent back to square one after the blaze as the building was not insured.

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