Send Love to Sunderland: The Canny Space

by The Churches Conservation Trust in Sunderland, England, United Kingdom

Send Love to Sunderland: The Canny Space
We did it
On 27th March 2018 we successfully raised £3,666 with 83 supporters in 42 days

One of Sunderland's most important old buildings is falling down. Help us transform it into a space for everyone

by The Churches Conservation Trust in Sunderland, England, United Kingdom

Help us transform a crumbling church into a vibrant cultural and community space

THANK YOU to everyone who donated to our crowdfunder appeal!  Thanks to your generosity The Canny Space is a step closer to becoming a reality.  The opporunity to support this project is not closed - we still have £16,400 to raise and you can donate online at

About this project...

Holy Trinity was once at the heart of Sunderland. Built in 1719 near the busy port, it offered community and religious services as well as housing the city’s first public library, civic rooms, and even the local fire engine. It was used and loved by countless people.

Gradually the city centre shifted, and Holy Trinity fell out of use. Now the Grade I listed building is at risk of collapse. The Chancel Arch is currently supported by scaffolding. The building suffers from water penetration, rotting timbers, and damage to masonry, plasterwork, and the roof. It is on Historic England’s ‘at risk’ register.

If we don't act now, this piece of history will be lost forever. Sunderland-born Dave Stewart of Eurythmics fame has joined The Canny Space as Creative Director. Will you join us too?

What can be done?

With your help, the future could be much brighter. We have a plan to transform the church into The Canny Space – a cultural venue that brings the history of Sunderland to life through storytelling, interpretation, events and performances.

This is more than just a repair job. The Canny Space will provide local facilities and opportunities. It will promote social cohesion and mental health, and encourage people of all ages to engage with art and heritage. It will offer craft skills training to people living in one of the most economically deprived areas of Britain.

The challenge

This is a £4.3 million project and we have already secured nearly £1 million of match funding and a fantastic £2.8 million grant from Heritage Lottery Fund. To have the best chance of success we are continuing to fundraise and have launched a public appeal to raise £50,000. To date we have raised a fantastic £30,000. 

That leaves £20,000 still to raise. This is the final push of our public appeal. We're so close, but The Canny Space can only happen with your help.

How will the money be spent?

Conservation: Urgent repair work will save the building for future generations.

Craft skills training: We will provide three 12-month paid apprenticeships in traditional building skills; conservation workshops for up to 1,120 people; and a student programme with City of Sunderland College.

New facilities: New toilets, heating, a kitchenette and flexible seating arrangements will be installed, and key areas of the church will be equipped for small and large-scale events.

Creative activity programmes: These will include an Access to Art programme, and activities in partnership with The Mac Trust, Cultural Spring and Sunderland MIND. We will also offer primary and secondary curriculum activities and further education programmes.

Heritage interpretation and storytelling garden: New interpretation will explore the heritage of Holy Trinity and the local area. A storytelling garden in the churchyard will be run by volunteers and offer activities.

Sustainability: We are developing numerous partnerships – including with Cultural Spring, Sunderland City Council and Sunderland University – to ensure that The Canny Space has a long and sustainable future.

Employment opportunities: Two new paid posts – a Centre Manager and Participation and Engagement Officer – will be created alongside a caretaking role and casual staff opportunities.

Volunteer opportunities: During the first five years, 90 volunteers will be recruited who will benefit from training. A young volunteers’ strategy will engage a new generation of heritage leaders.

Launch: The opening of The Canny Space in late 2019 will be marked with a spectacular event weaving together 300 years of stories in a series of immersive activities.

Please help us to save this nationally important building and place it at the heart of the Sunderland community once more.

A little more about us

We are The Churches Conservation Trust, a national charity saving historic churches at risk. We look after 353 buildings which attract almost 2 million visitors a year. Our unique  collection of English parish churches includes irreplaceable examples  of architecture, archaeology and art from 1,000 years of history. You can find out more about the work that we do, from conservation, to regeneration and education, on our website.

Find out more about the history of Holy Trinity here.

Follow the #SendLoveToSunderland campaign on social media

We'll provide updates on the progress of the campaign on this page, and on our Facebook and Twitter feeds.


This project offers rewards in return for your donation. Please select a reward below.

£25 or more

A copy of Pinnacle Magazine

Pinnacle is the CCT's exclusive members' magazine

£50 or more

1 year free membership

Members enjoy exclusive rates on our flagship events and other offers including: Historic Church Tours; the Annual Lecture; the Biennial Conference; and exclusive rates on selected merchandise. (Please note free membership is not available to existing members.)

£100 or more

1 year free membership + a free book

All the benefits of membership, plus a free copy of 'Beautiful Churches: Saved by The Churches Conservation Trust' by Matthew Byrne. (Please note free membership is not available to existing members.)

£500 or more

Your name in the church

We will record your name in The Canny Space alongside other major donors

£1,000 or more

Your name in the church and our Annual Review

We'll acknowledge your contribution by recording your name in The Canny Space and in our Annual Review, which goes out to all members and trustees

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