Our Lady & the English Martyrs Parish Centre

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Our Lady & the English Martyrs Parish Centre's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Our Lady & the English Martyrs Parish Centre is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


We provide celebrations and
services for the community
Our Lady & The English
Martyrs Parish Centre,
Husband and wife Archie and Filippa Martin have a
background in hospitality. They previously owned and
managed several pubs and restaurants around Greater
Manchester as Filmart Inns, which positioned them well to
establish Our Lady & The English Martyrs Parish Centre – soon to
be St John Henry Newman Parish Centre – under the Diocese of
Salford. On the site of a former church, Archie and Filippa were
asked by the community to transform the disused building into
a wonderful community centre that could serve everyone in the
area. Filippa tells
TheParliamentary Review
more about their work.
We provide celebrations and services for everyone, from private individuals
through to local NHS trusts, fire brigade and police units, schools and even
The centre is also used for voting and polling, sporting events and sometimes
festivals. All of this points to one thing – we provide a wide range of events and
services for all aspects of the community.
A drastic change to serve the area
Eight years ago, the community of Urmston asked Archie and I if we could run the
Our Lady & The English Martyrs Parish Centre. Once a wonderful church, it had
been deconsecrated and was no longer used for regular religious services.
»Director: Archie Martin
»Established in 2012
»Based in Urmston, Manchester
»Services: Celebrations and
events services for the
»No. of employees: 8
Our Lady & the English
Martyrs Parish Centre
Highlighting best practice
At the time, Urmston town was quite
run-down. Its high street was full of
empty buildings and pubs were closing
down thanks to breweries’ expensive
We took over the centre in 2012. It was
quite a deprived area then; pubs were
struggling to survive and shops were
closing down. Things have changed,
admittedly – we now have a lot of
different pop-up stores around – but
so have we. At first, our operation was
frankly quite commercial; we now cater
for a lot of fundraising and charity events.
We are in touch with Trafford housing
units about further developing our
operations thanks to great demand
with the public.
Our Lady & The English
Martyrs Parish Centre
The parish centre is located just off the
motorway and easily accessible by car,
complete with parking facilities. We
have two halls, which are situated in
front of a large field.
Our main hall holds up to 200 people
with suitable kitchen and bar facilities.
Mainly used for corporate meetings,
it has in past been the venue for small
NHS conferences, fire service health
and safety courses, a WI Social Lites
meeting, flower demonstrations,
birthday celebrations, wedding parties,
parliamentary voting, retreat days for
local schools, concerts and fundraising.
Next door, our smaller hall has been
used for everything from boot camp
and Irish dancing lessons to street
dancing and Taekwondo sessions.
It has also previously been used for
children’s camp gatherings and craft
club sessions in support of dementia.
Our field has been used for festivals
and services for a variety of churches,
across a number of religions.
Community demand, past
and present
Our centre is and historically has been
of great value to the local community.
Events held there have been mainly
requested by local people and
promoted through word of mouth,
as our capacity for advertising and
marketing is somewhat limited.
We try to tailor ourselves to the needs
and demands of our local area. Our
experience over the past 30 years
owning and managing a business
in Greater Manchester has kept us
well-informed in this regard, and
it has helped us to facilitate others
fulfilling their potential. Whether
it’s employment work, volunteering,
fundraising or anything else, we have
made it clear since 2012 that we are
here to support and provide facilities
for anyone working in the community.
We have recently been involved in a
project that introduced a refugee’s
family to our community, and
endeavours to support them in the
weeks and months that followed have
only continued.
Growth and difficulties
When we first started at Our Lady & The
English Martyrs Parish Centre, business
was in high demand thanks to our
Our main hall holds up
to 200 people
We tailor
ourselves to
the needs and
demands of
our local area
reputation and the relative novelty of the
venture. Unfortunately, this has since
slipped somewhat and our turnover has
dropped by as much as 30 per cent
Valuing the opinions, thoughts and
suggestions of local people in the
community as well as respecting their
behaviour and response to the centre
has been integral to our success across
this journey. This also helped us when
it came to considering the nature of
new projects and events.
As the Urmston area has started to
become more active, now considered
an “up and coming” town within
Greater Manchester, there has been
more to do for the local community. As
such, we have seen competition arise
and, consequently, demand start to slip.
Our plans to resolve this are simple,
but not necessarily straightforward. We
will need to reinvest in the business,
and brush up on our marketing. For
example, we have no doubt that
dedicated social media campaigns will
be integral when it comes to attraction
greater numbers to our events.
Perception, GDPR and
payment support
Our challenges have been numerous
– alongside slipping demand, we have
also faced a great deal of concern from
the community when it first “lost”
a church. Many were not convinced
that a parish centre would survive
in the way it has. After overcoming
this challenge, however, activity was
positively booming.
I also think I speak for every other
organisation in the UK when it comes
to GDPR. The new data protection
regulations have completely changed
the way event organisers have had to
collect, process and protect attendees’
personal information. Data collection
has become an arduous, highly-
regulated task – something that our
small workforce simply isn’t suited to.
Considering the ever-increasing
legislative cost of things like training,
HR support and business rates, one
major issue we have experienced has
been late payments. Often, public
sector bodies and large corporates
seem either to withhold or seriously
delay paying for products, events or
services. While there may be no ill will,
for an organisation like ours moving
day to day, there desperately needs
to be greater support and more clarity
around payment terms.
The future for Our Lady
Our halls do need some slight
renovations, and this is very much an
imposing cost – we only hope that
our local authority can provide us with
some support in that regard.
In spite of slipping demand, new
compliance measures and the
difficulties with payments, we remain
confident that growth will come. We
have proven to our community before
that we are an integral part of it, and
we are determined to remain a reliable,
productive and profitable venture that
continues to support them.
needs to be
support and
more clarity
Our team background in
hospitality has equipped
us well to deliver
weddings and similar


This article was sponsored by Our Lady & the English Martyrs Parish Centre. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster