Since 1993, the Ancient Monuments Society (AMS) and Friends of Friendless Churches (the Friends) have shared some resources and operated a joint membership. This arrangement was established at a time of financial difficulty and uncertainty. Often called the ‘Working Partnership’, the scheme provided mutual support and strength when it was needed.
Happily, both charities are now more financially secure, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, and are going from strength to strength. Since 2018, each charity has been led by a full-time, dedicated Director, respectively Lucie Carayon and Rachel Morley, and the charities have continued to flourish, and develop their identities within the heritage sector. The two societies are now very different in character, as are their objectives. As a statutory amenity society, the main function of the AMS is advisory, centred on casework and policy development and the promotion of the understanding of the built heritage of all periods. In contrast, The Friends’ mission is to rescue, repair and campaign for redundant places of worship; with 55 historic buildings in their care, they work with local communities to care for and celebrate their ecclesiastical heritage. Both organisations wish to respond to new challenges and expand in different ways, including enhancing their funding bases from different sources.
There was always going to be a time when, as each charity developed in size, resilience and character, the benefits of operating completely independently would come to outweigh some, and ultimately all, of the benefits of working in partnership. These considerations have prompted us to take stock, give careful thought to the future and move forward. As a result, our respective Boards of Trustees have decided to work toward becoming fully independent of each other, in order to realise our respective ambitions and bring our particular objectives into sharper focus.
The ‘Working Partnership’ with the Friends of Friendless Churches will end formally on the 26 September 2021, but the joint membership will continue for the calendar year of 2021. All life and honorary memberships will be upheld. For the subscription year 202, each member will have a choice of joining one or, we very much hope, both charities. In the course of 2021, each charity will announce its individual subscription rate.