Ipswich: Hope for fire-hit church despite appeal shortfall

IPSWICH: A church which was almost destroyed by fire could still be refurbished – despite a fundraising appeal falling well short of the sum required to carry out the extensive repairs.

It is more than a year since arsonists torched St Michael’s Church in Upper Orwell Street.

The Victorian building was in the process of being turned into a community centre having recently been bought by Islamic charity Jimas when it was severely damaged by fire on March 7 last year.

A fundraising appeal was immediately launched.

But so far, only �50,000 of the estimated half a million pounds needed to carry out the work has been raised.

Jimas is currently paying out �500 a month just to keep the scaffolding up around the building.

In a bid to raise the required funds, Jimas has organised a meeting on Tuesday, April 24, to discuss the way forward for the building.

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The meeting at Shelley’s restaurant in Suffolk New College is by invitation-only, but community groups from all areas of the town have been invited along to share ideas and a meal, along with council representatives.

Owner and chief executive of Jimas, Muhammad Manwar Ali, admitted fundraising for the project had been going “very, very slowly”.

Mr Ali said: “We’ve done remarkably well.

“People have been very generous because they see hope in the project.

“I want it to be for the community of Ipswich. It has to serve the community as whatever they want it to be.”

Members of the Prince’s Regenerative Trust will also be at the invitation-only event and Mr Ali hopes to get them involved in the restoration as well.

To donate to the project, e-mail mail@jimas.org or visit www.jimas.org for more information

n Are you undertaking an unusual renovation project? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starnews@archant.co.uk