Annual Report 2020

Administrative Information

St. Paul's church is situated at the corner of Broadway Street and Ashton Road, Hathershaw, Oldham. The correspondence address is St. Paul’s Vicarage, 55 Belgrave Road, Oldham OL8 1LU.

The parish is in the Deanery of Oldham West, in the Diocese of Manchester.

The parish forms part of the United Benefice of Oldham and Werneth, and a Mission Partnership with the parish of St. Thomas, Werneth. It is part of a Mission Unit with Holy Trinity, Coldhurst, St Stephen & All Martyrs, Oldham, and Oldham Parish Church.

The Parochial Church Council (PCC) is a charity excepted from registration with the Charity Commission.

The Parish Bank Account is with HSBC. The Insurers of the Parish are EIG.

PCC Object

The Parochial Church Council has the responsibility, according to law:

To cooperate with the minister in promoting in the parish the whole mission of the church, pastoral, evangelistic, social, and ecumenical.

The Parish

The parish contains a variety of property which includes owner occupier, rented, council houses, apartments and sheltered housing. There are terraced houses, a legacy of the cotton industry, and a mix of semi and detached houses.

A number of new homes have been built in the parish.

In the Index of Multiple Deprivation, the parish straddles 6 LSOAs. A "Lower Super Output Area" is the smallest geographical unit for which demographic data is produced. Oldham 024B is ranked 1,003, and Oldham O29A is ranked 321 out of 32,844 LSOAs across the country. In the 3% and 1% most deprived, respectively. The immediate area around St. Paul's, and the top end of Hathershaw, respectively.

There is a mix of religious and ethnic communities in the parish: British, Asian, African and European. The parish also plays host to a Methodist Church, a Spiritualist Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Mormon Temple, two Hindu Temples and several Mosques.

There are a number of schools in the Parish: Coppice and Broadfield (Primary); Hulme Grammar; and the Hathershaw College.

PCC Structure & Governance

The method of appointment of PCC members is broadly as set out in the Church Representation Rules, with one exception: Church Wardens may be elected for an unlimited number of consecutive periods of office. The Hon. Assistant Priest is also an ex-officio member of the PCC.

Thus the PCC currently consists of 9 elected members, depending on numbers on the Electoral Roll: 3 each year. In addition, there are ex officio members: 3 Deanery Synod Representatives; 2 Church Wardens, the Vicar, and the Hon. Assistant Priest.

All who attend Church are encouraged to register on the Electoral Roll and stand for election to the PCC.

Electoral Roll Officer's Report

During the recent revision 2 names have been removed and 5 new names added so the total number of church members on the roll is now 69.

Jill Platt

PCC Membership

Vicar: Revd. Nick Andrewes (Chair)
Curate: Revd. Cath Hewison (from November)
Churchwardens: vacant
Deanery Synod Representatives: Colin Platt, Megan Locklin, vacant
(2 years to serve):
Barbara Allison, Norah Baxendale, Auriel Hopkinson, Andrea Marshall
(1 year to serve):
Jane McColgan, Pam McKay, Lynne Street (Secretary)
(0 years to serve):
Margaret Fogg, David Street (until November)
Safeguarding Officer: Carol Vaudrey
Independent Examiner: Danny Stone

Church Attendance

No attendance is currently recorded for 2020 because services were alternating with St. Thomas' Church, and the data would not help in determining a trend. This was because of the global pandemic (Covid-19) and the aftermath. (As of the beginning of May 2021, between 20 and 25 were attending on a Sunday morning).

YEAR 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015
aged 16 and over (including baptisms) 27 - 43 45 53 62 54
aged 16 and over (who attend less than 12 times per year) 7 - 7 12 17 14 6
aged 16 and over (who attend more than 12 times per year) 20 - 38 41 45 38 40
aged 16 and under 8 - 16 15 19 18 10

Vicar's Report

What a very strange and very difficult year - with all that we have faced as individuals and also as a church community.

Since we went into lockdown back in March, we have worked to provide online services each week. A decision was made to use a "web-page" style, rather than a live-stream of the whole service. Hopefully this allowed those who used it to find their own way through the material, and hear each others' voices even when we could not be together. I know some listened to everything, and others dipped in and out. The format allowed us to offer a range of musical styles, being both more traditional and more modern at the same time, hopefully satisfying (and stretching) all tastes. I (and we) are very grateful to all those who learnt new skills: recording themselves reading, or praying, and then emailing the result to me, so that I could include it. We continued to offer an online service, even when we were back in church, for those who could not attend in person, and intend still to do so . .

One of the most challenging aspects of Parish life over the last year has been the relentless changes to what we were or were not allowed to do at various points: how many could attend a funeral; whether we could host baptisms; whether anyone was allowed to work on the church grounds; whether clergy were allowed in to churches; how Parochial Church Councils, and Annual Parochial Church Meetings were to be conducted, etc. And these changes were often communicated at the last minute, and with possible penalties for non-compliance. I (and we) have been very grateful to members of our risk assessment committee who have supported in getting to grips with making sure that St. Paul's church was as safe as possible. . .

In church, our services were very different. We are not allowed to sing in church, or host Sunday School, so our services have become more multi-media - again, attempting, as before Covid-19, to offer the best of a range of musical styles. And of course, our services alternated between St. Paul's and St. Thomas on a Sunday morning. They were increasingly well-attended and so the decision was made, just as the January lockdown came upon us, to switch to a service in each church every week - a safer, more consistent, and more easily communicated arrangement - and I think we all breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that we wouldn't have to think where and when the service was going to take place on the coming Sunday.

We were not able to celebrate Easter in Church, but we were able to celebrate Christmas.

I know that we have been very grateful that contact by various means has continued between different congregation members - a real expression of the strength of St. Paul's communal life.

Highlights of the year

It may not seem quite right to talk about highlights of 2020, but there have indeed been a number.

  • Zoom Sunday School usually attended by 16-25 children (with parents lurking in the background) from across the two churches. Increasingly the children became more and more comfortable with this way of learning, and it actually became a richer and richer experience as time went on: not only having the privilege of running Sunday School in each child's home, but also, doing so with their parents, and with music and video. No one had to worry about making too much noise!
  • Stronger relationships between St. Paul's and St. Thomas': the two parishes have continued to pull together to support each other during this time of Covid-19: in Zoom Sunday School; in the Risk Assessment Subcommittee; and in Sunday Services.
  • A highlight that came right at the end of the year was the completion of the fence at the East end of the area behind the church. As many of you know, this project has been a long time coming, and will enable us to make better use of the space behind the church.
  • The considerable generosity shown my many congregation members in their increased regular giving, and one-off donations made to the church. Your generosity has been much needed, and greatly valued at this time.
  • The many different ways in which congregation members, new and old, have maintained their engagement in parish life - despite the changes that it has seen.
  • Perhaps we've simply had to learn new ways of being church. Learning new technology-skills. Offering all-age services every week. Trying to engage with the broad spectrum of people that our increasingly diverse church community now brings together.
  • In November, it was a great surprise and pleasure to be able to welcome Rev. Cath Hewison for the next couple of years as Curate. She brings considerable gifts with her, and I have no doubt that she will be a great blessing to both our Church Communities over the next couple of years. I know that it has been a considerable challenge for her to start a new post, and move house in the current climate.

Challenges ahead

  • Many of you will know, by now, of the reluctant decisions around closing the Charity Shop which has served church and community so well over the years, and also contributed so much to church funds. We must now discern a future path that has to rely more upon financial generosity than hard work, if we are to remain solvent as a parish, let alone move forward. We have already had a couple of additional expressions of interest in groups using the Community Room, and this is an area of parish life that we need to develop, as we look forward.
  • Sadly, we know that the church roof is in need of renewal over the next 20 or so years. The architect advised that we allow £300,000 for this work. I know that many of you will see this as an eye-watering sum of money, and indeed it is. However, I do believe it is an acheivable target. We can split the work into stages, in order of priority, and tackle each separately. We have raised a similar sum of money in the past, through grants, for the repointing of the parts of the church, and the renewal of the stained glass. I have every confidence that this can be done again.
  • Perhaps one of the challenges of the last year, for me, was the sense of powerlessness. That we wanted to be able to respond, as a church, to the obvious needs exposed by the pandemic. And yet we were hampered by the risks, the rules and the regulations. We will need to discern new ways forward.
  • To some extent, parish life has had to be reinvented: time (and patience) will be needed as we allow things to settle down into new rhythms and patterns.
  • Just as parish life will not be the same, so we know that the Diocese has been hit hard financially by the pandemic. We know that at the end of May, the Deanery of Oldham West will cease to exist, and that soon afterwards we will find ourselves working more closely with other parishes in a larger Mission Community. We will need to invest time and energy in developing good working patterns and relationships within which we can thrive and be a blessing to each other.
  • Last, but by no means least, I know that there will be some spaces among the pews when we return. These spaces are not empty. They are not "gaps" or "voids", but rather they are filled with memories of loved ones, who have given so much to us and to the church community over the years. We wait, as ever, to see what the future holds, and what our church life will look like as we, hopefully begin to emerge, step by step, from the pandemic. I have no doubt that considerable adjustment will be required, as we go. Please pray that we will be guided by the Holy Spirit, as we hope, finally, to move forward again, and put the worst parts of 2020 well behind us.

Once again, I would like to thank you all for your continued support, your commitment and your courage over the last 12 months. I am confident that, together and by the grace of God, we can move forward, in time, renewed in faith, hope and love.

Revd. Nick Andrewes

Secretary's Report

During 2020 we managed 6 PCC meetings, 5 of which were on Zoom. In most cases all members of the PCC managed to attend the meetings. All of the meetings were chaired by Nick. Unfortunately, most of the meetings were around the topic of closing and re-opening the church for worship, but we have discussed the railings. We will be looking for a new member of the PCC as Margaret’s term of office ends this year. If any of our younger Church members are interested please come and have a chat.

There are 11 members of the PCC plus Cath Hewison and Richard McEwen.

Our APCM was delayed until October, 17 people attended the Zoom online meeting.

Lynne Street

Child Protection Report

Safeguarding has taken on a very different approach this year, as the care can be split into physical and internet.

For the times we have been able to meet in church, safe-guards of hand sanitizing, temperature checking, mask wearing and space between parishioners have been well adhered to.

The Diocese issued guidance to help all services and Sunday School to go on line. We needed to be inclusive but protect everyone who was participating and I feel this has been achieved with the co-operation of the clergy, church officers and participants. We have not had any breaches of security or disruption of on-line services reported.

Carol A. Vaudrey

Health & Safety Report

During an unusual year some reports submitted for review at the APCM may not contain much detail as activities have been impacted upon by the pandemic.

In this instance, health & safety has been of key focus during 2020/21 and the Covid-19 Committee is to be congratulated in their efforts in keeping everyone safe.

No Covid-19 cases were reported in respect of contacts in church. One group was attended by a person (not a member of the congregation) who tested positive - track and trace required one of our team to self-isolate (that person did not test positive).

Unfortunately, the charity shop was forced to close due to lockdowns and an assessment of risk which determined that we could not keep the people staffing the shop safe from exposure to Covid-19.

Obviously, the church’s inspection regime for ladders, fixtures and fittings etc. has been disrupted and it has not been possible to carry out a Covid secure fire drill. However, the general visual inspections have not revealed any issues, PAT is up to date and fire equipment has been maintained.

Covid secure arrangements (including social distancing, sanitising regimes, ventilation, one-way access routes, delayed occupancy (72+ hour gaps), two-meter distancing signage and markings), have proved to be effective.

The church was closed during lockdowns, in order to meet legal requirements during the first lockdown and to prevent the congregation from being exposed to Covid-19 during the latest lockdown, even though we could have opened (legally) during lockdown 3.

May I take this opportunity to thank the congregation for following Covid secure guidelines and arrangements.

Neil Marshall

Treasurer's Report

To quote the Queen, 2020 was an “annus horribilis”, but for some it was far more horrible, intense and extremely sad.

St Paul’s church building was closed for 23 weeks of lockdown and 8 weeks of alternating services with St Thomas’s. For the weeks of closure there was no plate collections and a reduced number of planned giving envelopes were received. No fundraising social events, no income from room rental, we only paid 53% of our Parish Share, which St Paul’s has always taken pride in paying in full each year.

Also, the sad demise of our beloved charity shop.

That said, we have received some generous donations from members of our congregation which has kept us from going in the red.

We had the generous donation of the TV, which has made the non-singing services quite different. The church not being open reduced the overheads on gas, electric and cleaning. We donated £70.00 to Oldham Food Bank, £134.00 to the Children’s Society and £40.00 to Unicef.

We approach 2021 with hope and prayers for better things to come.

Lynne Street

PCC Reserves Policy

  • The parish acknowledges the principles of Jesus’ teachings, and also of good governance: that money should only be kept in reserve for specific purposes, or spent, to further the objects of the PCC—not hoarded for a rainy day. These objects are listed above.
  • The Parish identifies particular risks in its situation. The Parish is grateful for work of volunteers and organisers of the Parish Second Hand Shop; and for the work of those who make the Community Room available to the Community. Both of these bring significant income into the parish. However the parish is also realistic about the potential risks associated with its dependence on these forms of income.
  • The Parish recognises that there is also a considerable backlog of building work that needs to be undertaken. Immediate priorities were indicated in the Quinquennial Inspection Report (2018). The most significant of these is the need to make provision for re-roofing the church (£100,000). In addition to this a number of smaller and larger improvements and repairs are needed to improve the fabric of church and community room.
  • Therefore the Parish aims for its level of reserves to approximately match 4 months of annual payments, at current levels this roughly equates to £18,400

Planned Giving & Gift Aid

Planned Giving: Weekly Envelopes

At the start of 2020, we had 19 people who took the weekly Planned Giving boxed envelopes.

During the Covid lockdown, where no church services took place, 3 people converted to giving through the bank. Whilst 2 others submitted their envelopes direct to me. Once we return to church it is hoped we can recruit other members of the congregation to enrol for the Planned Giving scheme.

Planned Giving: Direct into the bank account

At the Start of 2020 there were 26 people donating monthly direct into our bank account. By the end of 2020 there were 29 people donating via the bank. This income, plus additional donations, has really helped us throughout the year.


2020 was a challenging year in more ways than we care to consider. Our income has been drastically affected. We are thankful to those people who were able to support us via envelopes and through the bank and to those people who have made some very generous one-off donations.

Lynne Street

Social Committee

There have been no social gatherings or activities throughout the last 12 months for obvious reasons.

Hopefully something can be organised for the future, the first thing being a BIG PARTY to celebrate our freedom but also a belated celebration for Celia's 100th birthday which is long overdue!

Adrienne Williams & Barbara Allison

Deanery Synod

The Oldham West Deanery has been led through a very testing year by Area Dean, Rev. N Andrewes.

The year started with a discussion on:

Consultation on the proposals for new deanery arrangements in the Diocese of Manchester.

The 20 deaneries to be consolidated into 7 deaneries each with a full time Area Dean. For our parish we would be part of the Oldham and Ashton Deanery ie about 50 parishes but only about 30 stipendiary ministers.

There was much discussion and views were expressed to Bishop Mark. Through the year other meetings have been held by Zoom, quite an experience for everyone.

We have considered the future of the church and the diocese over the next 10 years and in discussion about Mission Communities within the New Deanery and the existing Mission Units within our local area, it is important that we think about our church as:

  • A ‘Growing Church’, a church for everyone.
  • A Nurturing church, focused on discipleship and evangelism
  • A church ‘Fit for Mission’

These are for us, for our Deanery and the Diocese, a 10 year plan.

It is clear that the Diocese cannot replace clergy as they leave or retire and therefore we have to think of ways of working together, of sharing resources, of the lay people taking on more responsibility and leadership.

This is not going to happen tomorrow, the church building is not going to be closed,

In fact we have already started the process, yes we have, when we joined with St Thomas’s we began the sharing, the working together, sharing expertise, sharing resources, sharing knowledge, we are ahead of the game!

Colin Platt

Sunday School

In these different and difficult circumstances Sunday School has still had a very busy year. Still full of engagement with the seasons of the church year, learning through craft making, games, music, story and performance.

We started with a lower average attendance of 11 children from January to March. The adventures of Jonah and the big fish were due to be performed to the congregation at the end of March. It was not to be.

Instead the adventures of Sunday School started online, with families making cross images out of what they could find from their homes. These were shared for Palm Sunday on the website.

After Easter we experimented with Sunday School on Zoom, bringing together members of both congregations: St Paul’s and St Thomas’. A massive learning curve for all. Finding the best way to communicate; to speak and to listen; where is the ‘mute’ button and the ‘spotlight’ tool?!

By September when children were returning to school a Sunday school planning group of seven started working on celebrating Harvest, Advent and Nativity online. We also explored some of the Psalms.

We also discussed ways to resource families with craft materials to their learning. In November the first Sunday School packs were delivered in a COVID safe way to the families’ doorsteps. Family engagement with Sunday School accelerated over night, often with between 19 and 26 children attending.

Reflecting back we have missed meeting, making and praying with each other in person and showing our creations and performances in church. However we have enjoyed meeting on Zoom with families sharing our creativity, prayers, readings and still being able to perform nativity by You tube in church. We have been part of a broader community with both the churches. Nick, Cath and Richard have come to Sunday school every week to support with worship, play, imagination and reflection.

Looking forward to 2021 we are continuing with Zoom Sunday school until the churches are open again. When we are back in church the provision for our families will be a regular focus in the main Sunday morning service until we are allowed to return to a separate Sunday school. However who knows yet what Sunday school will look like but we are certainly open to seeing it in a different light.

Gina Andrewes & Amy Holt

Community Room

The community room was not used for most of the year, from March. However, we hope to welcome back, in 2021: Oldham Camera Club, Bethel Church, Deeper Life Church, Guides, Scouts, Stitch & Share, Pop-in, and English Classes.

We hope to be able to improve our offering to include the newly-developed, secure outside space.

Thanks to those who have supported making this space available for the community.

Nick Andrewes

Charity Shop

The Church Charity shop had to close at the end of March 2020 due to Covid19 and the many restrictions placed on shops, and for the safety of all our volunteers.

The PCC decided that it was regrettable but the shop should close permanently. Due notice was given to our landlord and we were able to interest another Charity in the stock and fittings in the shop.

The complete closure of all aspects of the shop has taken some time, especially dealing with utilities and other service providers.

We now are at a stage to complete our accounts and as we reflect on the last 12 months we feel sure that the PCC decision was in fact the right one to make. This is because, as we look back, we notice that for many weeks we would have been closed because we were a non essential business and we would still be liable to pay our regular outgoings, rent, rates insurance etc.

However the Church has lost an income in excess of £6,000.

Our thanks to all the volunteers who over the years have worked in the shop and given service to the church, to the community and have enjoyed the company of many who became good friends,


From the many members of the Shop Committee who themselves have given many hours of service in and out of the shop.

Colin Platt


Last year I wrote,’The choir is a strong group of people who love music and enjoy enhancing worship,’

It is unfortunate that the joy of singing in church, of making music with our voices has been restricted due to the impact of the Covid 19.

We have been able to listen to music of various styles on the weekly On Line services, and perhaps some people may have enjoyed the variety of music and found their voices in their own homes.

We hope you may be encouraged to enjoy singing in church and perhaps even in a choir.

Colin Platt


There has been no Magazine since February 2020 due to current restrictions.

This has resulted in a reduced income for church and we are grateful to those people who had already paid for 2021. Hopefully, it will be possible to resume production of the Magazine when current restrictions are lifted.

(A decision was in fact made in 2021 to discontinue the magazine, and instead distribute a newsletter).

Eileen Cooper

Pop In

Our last meeting was in March 2020, but we have kept in touch with all our members on a regular basis. It is hoped that we shall meet again when it is safe to do so.

Eileen Cooper

Church Flowers

What a strange year this has been !

I am sure many of you will not only have missed church services but also the flowers. Many people donate money for flowers to mark special occasions in their lives or to remember loved ones no longer with us.

If you would like to donate towards flowers in church in the coming months please sign up on the notice board.

I am sure we are all looking forward to being able to worship together soon.

Jill Platt

Eco Church Report

I am sure during this time of the pandemic we have noticed the changes in the environment around us. We may have felt more attuned with nature if we were able to be in an outdoor space or explore a new walk in our locality: perhaps noticing more subtle changes between the seasons; enjoying the blue skies with more birds and less of the mechanical kind, so to speak.

When in church we celebrated Creationtide together.

We are continuing to use the Eco Church Audit which is an online survey which asks us how we care for God’s earth through worship and teaching; buildings; land; community and personal engagement and lifestyle. This year we are making more progress with the land around St Paul’s Church. At either side of the New Year, fencing was installed at the top and bottom of the paved area behind the church. This enclosed area gives us the opportunity to plant, compost, learn about growing plants and increase biodiversity.

Gina Andrewes

Stitch & Share

The sewing groups across the two churches of St Paul’s and St Thomas’ continued to meet until early March.

Over the Spring and Summer months, members shared work and news in an organised email group.

In September we held a support meeting, where 15 people attended.

In December we had a non-festive, distanced gathering.

Some members have been supported with resources delivered to their homes.

Looking ahead to 2021 we hope to begin meeting face to face again.

We will continue to work with Action Together Oldham in welcoming new members through the social prescribing scheme.

Resources 450.00
Room Hire 660.00
Tutor 240.00
TOTAL 0.00 TOTAL 1,350.00
Balance at 1 / 1 / 20: 3,967.62 Balance at 31 / 12 / 20: 2,617.62
DEFICIT 1,350.00

Gina Andrewes & Auriel Hopkinson

Unit Report: 10th Oldham St Paul’s Guides

This year has been a bit different to most...

In January we started the Be Well skills builder completing flexible first aid kits, hidden signs and think fast. We also had two girls make their promise during the weekly meetings.

In February we carried on with Be Well and completed a safe place. We also made pancakes and discovered that all the girls preferred sweet to savory not really much of a surprise.

We started the Mexico Adventure Challenge Badge in March. This is a badge that we had created to help to raise funds for our trip to Mexico that should have been going ahead later this year. Then lock down happened and we were unable to meet face to face at all. We had a number of events, activities, fundraisers and camps planned but they all had to be postponed or canceled including our long awaited trip to Our Cabana in Mexico. We are hoping to book another trip when we are allowed and the Guide houses reopen in the future.

In September we arranged a Bag2School clothing collection to raise some funds to help pay for census next year. I joined St Pauls Royton Guides on Zoom to see how they ran their meeting online and get some ideas to do our own as we wouldn't be able to meet face to face for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately when I contacted our girls we only had two guides and one young leader who wanted to join the zoom meetings. So we continued to meet with the guides from Royton over Zoom every two weeks.

We have done activities from the Know Yourself skills builder, had a scavenger hunt and played games such as guess who.

In December we made woolly hat tree decorations then designed and sparkled up their own bauble filled with chocolates. The girls and leaders are enjoying the zoom meetings even if they take a bit of getting used to. However over the winter months it has been quite nice not to have to go out in the cold. We are planning on carrying on with the zoom meetings until we are able to meet face to face again.

Hayley Cowling

Unit Report: 12th Oldham St Paul’s Scouts

Last year's scouting has been adversely affected by the covid kerfuffle. Junior leader training for Calden was cancelled again due to Covid.

We are still planning our trip to Red Rose 2022 Jamboree camp in the background. Once there is some let up we can consider meetings starting into 2021.

Warren spent some time ill with Covid during the year but has thankfully recovered well.

We have not heard from anyone with respect to volunteering as parent helpers Leaders or Junior leaders. However due to circumstances it is not surprising.

We have collected no subs and have advised Oldham District such.

Phil Howarth