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So many people say what a wonderful welcome they receive in our churches. That is of course a credit to everyone. But buildings play their part in the welcome we offer as well. 

Currently those visiting the St James' Church building have to cross the road to Church House to access refreshments or toilet facilities. This is far from ideal - the road can get very busy, and sometimes other activities are going on in Church House which can make access difficult.


So we're working to upgrade the facilities in St James' - so we can offer even more of a welcome to everyone who comes into the building.

Please read on to find out more about the project - and how you can get involved....

or click here to go straight to an update.


The Project


We have plans to add a toilet and a small kitchen facility to make it easier to serve teas and coffees and other light refreshments. These will be situated in the South transept (the wider area on the left as you look from the main entrance) – the area where we currently serve refreshments after our Sunday services. 


The toilet will be fully accessible and meet all disability requirements. The kitchen will be a ‘cupboard kitchen’ with storage units, work surfaces, a sink and a small fridge, concealed behind doors which can be opened fully when the kitchen is in use.

The construction will be a pod type construction – essentially a “building within the building” which will minimise any structural work.


The plans that our architect has drawn up are here.....

Artist's impression of the pod in place in the South transept, showing the side of the entrance porch on the far left, the side of the toilet in the centre, and the closed doors of the kitchenette unit on the right.

Plan of the pod, again showing the the entrance porch on the left, with the entrance to the toilet facing the cleaners' cupboard, and the layout of the kitchenette.

Drinks and other refreshments will be served from free-standing tables in front of the kitchenette.

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What's happening now?

Pod Update: May 2024


Good news and Glitches!

We have received a very generous grant from a Trust, which prefers not to be thanked publicly and this brings us within 10% of the funds we need. I have of course sent our thanks privately.

We have had to appoint a new Architect because Richard Crook, who was our Diocesan Architect for many years and drew up the plans for the pod, has now retired. Supervising a project like ours takes a lot of time and energy and we are lucky to have found a Birmingham-based firm which can do this, Stephen Oliver Architecture. They have a lot of experience in working on listed buildings and are registered with the Diocese for carrying out Quinquennial inspections of churches.

We have applied for a date to commence work on the first phase of the works, a sewer connection (the least attractive part of the project!) at the end of July. Road closure is easier in the school holidays and the weather should be better.

Before we can arrange for the rest of the work to be done, we need to have completed the fundraising. Trusts will not give money for work which has already started, and we cannot risk a shortfall. I am working on another grant application but if anyone still has ideas for money making events, however small, it demonstrates our continuing commitment to this major improvement for our Parish Church and helps with my appeals. If all goes well, we should be ready to instruct the builder in August but may have to wait for a starting date. Patience is a difficult but essential virtue to have in a project like this!

This is a very big undertaking and your support with fundraising, encouragement and especially prayer is greatly appreciated.

Grants and donations

We are extremely grateful to everyone who has contributed to this project, including

The Friends of St James

The Grimmit Trust

The Beatrice Laing Trust

The Edward Cadbury Trust

The Benefact Trust

The Solihull MBC CIL Fund.


How can I donate to the project?


Via our secure ‘Give a Little’ page accessed here​. You can select one of the options available, or choose you own amount. You will be given the option to Gift Aid your donation if you wish to do so.


By cheque payable to Shirley Parish PCC. 

Please place in an envelope labelled “the Pod Project” and hand in to the Parish Office, or post through the Parish Office door. Cash donations may be made in the same way.

Please use the Gift Aid scheme if you pay tax.

Thank you very much.

What's Gift Aid and how do I do it?

Donating with Gift Aid means we can claim an extra 25p for every £1 you give at no cost to you.

If you have not already completed a Gift Aid form for Shirley Parish, please download and complete the form available here and include it with your donation, or post it through the Parish Office door. The registered name of the charity is "The Parochial Church Council of the Ecclesiastical Parish of Shirley." 

Gift Aid forms are also available at the back of St James'.

Gift Aid
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