Thriving community in Drighlington demands bigger space

Drighlington Methodist Church serves as a hive of activity within the community of Drighlington. It is estimated that up to 1000 people access the church’s facilities each week by attending activities there, including Drighlington Digital and the Memory Pot Café, whose volunteers were recently awarded The King’s Award for Voluntary Service.

Drighlington Digital began more than five years ago in collaboration with a local Community Interest Company (CIC). The free weekly sessions are hosted by an IT consultant, together with a team of volunteers, who run sessions on different tech-y topics such as internet safety, what to look for in different types of technology, and specific software such as “Zoom”. There is also time within the session to offer personal support, such as help completing online applications, or with a new device. While church members do attend, the group also attracts engagement from the wider local community, who feel at ease in a space which receives questions with kindness.

One year, in recognition of the isolation people can feel around Christmas, the group held an open session in late December for anyone who wanted to “Zoom” with family in different parts of the world but didn’t have the confidence to. One lady was able to see her grandchildren “live” for the first time!

In addition to the weekly Drighlington Digital sessions, the church is open for a Coffee Pot Café three times a week. The Friday Coffee Pot Café is best known locally as The Memory Café, open especially for people suffering with dementia and their carers. The group was inspired by the personal experiences of two church members, who felt that the church could offer a safe and welcoming place for those affected by Dementia. It began with a small group of volunteers, trained as Dementia Friends, and four couples, and now the group regularly has up to fifty attendees per week, and over a hundred at special events such as Christmas Dinner.

The community of volunteers who support The Memory Café are truly remarkable – in addition to serving on a Friday, they also offer support through the week, actively walking alongside those who attend the Café. Some of the volunteers have individually won national awards, such as the National Award for Care and Compassion and the Queen’s Jubilee Award for Community Work, and in 2023, the team were awarded The King’s Award for Voluntary Service.

“We’re there to give a listening ear when someone, especially a carer, is going through a trying time. It’s very rewarding knowing that, hopefully, we have made a difference. There is a lot of fun and laughter. It is a very welcoming and safe environment, and many friendships have been forged,” shared Sheila, one of the volunteers.

Due to the growth in the church’s activities, and local demand, Drighlington Methodist Church has recently embarked on substantial renovations to their church hall. In consultation with the local community, including many volunteers from other local organisations who already used the hall, they are building a multi-use space in order to accommodate more community activity. For now, all of the activities which used to take place in the hall are being conducted in the church, with surprising success!

“We wondered at first how we would be able to carry on with all the Church activities in the midst of all the building work and disruption,” said Rod. “It’s been wonderful how the various activities have still been able to take place and how people have adapted, proving that with God’s help, the disruptions can be overcome and anything is possible. This made us believe that if you have faith in God, there’s no such thing as ‘it can’t be done’. When the building work is complete we are looking forward to seeing how the building will enhance our witness and outreach in the community”.

None of the church or community activities have had to be cancelled during the building work, and the leadership team have been amazed to see the response of those who don’t normally step into the church building; there has been a real sense of sanctuary, particularly for those who rely on the Food Bank, and one local lady has recently renewed her connection to the church through volunteering in the church space.

You can find out more about Drighlington Methodist Church on their website:

By Emily Smith


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