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Church invests in canal barge to reach community

Polwarth Parish Church, which sits next to a canal in Edinburgh, is working with local charity People Know How to promote community cohesion, wholeness and wellbeing.

They've been given a £50,000 grant to get the project off the ground, while the congregation has raised a further £32,000.

Rev Jack Holt told Premier's News Hour it all came about when authorities began to encourage people to engage with the canal system.

"We saw the potential of having a presence on the canal side," he said. "The canal path has become a busy byway for people walking along, cycling, going back and forth to work from the centre of the city.

"That began the process of us considering how we could engage. So we thought what if we could make a garden? And then what if we could have a pontoon? And then what if we could have a boat.

"Over the last a few years, we've worked through these stages."

Holt says it is vital churches are thinking about getting outside of their buildings.

"I think it's absolutely essential in this day and age," he said. "I've been in ministry for 35 years and wherever I've been I've always said to the congregation that your purpose is to go beyond these walls and find out what it is that makes you unique to where you are."

The project's been given backing by local MP Ian Murray who lodged a congratulatory motion in the House of Commons.

He said: "The awarding of a grant to buy a barge is testament to the hard work and dedication of the congregation of Polwarth Parish Church, led so wonderfully by Rev Holt.

"The work at Polwarth in the creation of the memorial garden, the jetty on to the canal, and now the barge will really turn the church into a wonderful community hub that will contribute considerably to the local community and will transform the lives of young people.

"Well done to all involved and I can't wait to see the final results."

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