The Malt Cross Music Hall
Many people will have been into the Malt Cross Music Hall when it was being run by the Potter's House, a charity in which Armorel Young was very much involved. Following the move of Potter's House, and the refurbishment of the Hall, it has been closed for some four years.
There have been many attempts to find uses for this magnificent building, and I have certainly been very keen to try to find ways of using it since I first visited it three years ago.
Well, now a consortium of city churches is on the point of opening it as a centre for work in the city centre night time economy. I guess everyone is deeply concerned about the way the city centre is becoming almost a no-go area at night for anyone who is not wanting to over use the pubs and clubs that are increasingly taking over the area. The level of anti-social behaviour late at night is worryingly high, and the police are having to divert large numbers of officers from other parts of the city (which have just as much need of them) in order to deal with the problems.
The Malt Cross Project can only be a drop in the ocean, but we are seeking to provide an attractive, secure, friendly environment, free of alcohol, but serving good food and other forms of liquid refreshment, where city revellers can 'chill-out' either during the evening or at the end of the night before trying to get public transport home. They will, we hope be able to access support and advice, as needed, and the place will be staffed principally by volunteers, who will be Christians (eg students on placement from St John's College and elsewhere), but not proselytising Christians!
Church Army has offered us substantial funding for staffing the project, which is very encouraging, and individual churches have offered funding for start-up costs. We should be contributing to this, and I hope that some individuals who are excited by the project might be willing to offer one-off gifts to help with this.
Such a project has much support from support from secular agencies, and provides really significant opportunities for us to make a small, but important contribution to bettering the life of the city.
During the day, it is proposed that a café/bar will be opened, again aimed at younger people, with a limited and responsible sale of alcohol, and again staffed by Christian people. This we hope will be open by the end of November.
Please come and talk to me if you are interested to know more. This is a great ecumenical step forward, bringing together churches that might never have expected to be collaborating (St Peter's, St Nic's, Central Methodist Mission, Christian Centre and Trent Vineyard, together with St John's College and the university Chaplaincies and St Mary's support). We are convinced that we are doing something right for the churches and right for the city.