A community group is hoping to save a church that it says is the only social hub for people living nearby.

Campaigners are aiming to raise £900,000 to buy the New Bevan Community Church in New Barnet, which they fear could be knocked down to make way for a housing development.

The Baptist church, on Grove Road, was built in 1958 and has served residents, including those on the nearby Bevan Estate, for three generations.

As well as church services, it hosts a senior citizens’ lunch club, a weekly children’s club, a mother and toddler club, keep-fit sessions and children’s activities in the school holidays.

Campaign coordinator Ros Howarth said: “For many senior citizens, the lunch club is the only time they leave the house and the only opportunity they have to talk to anyone.

“A lot of the local children are from low-income or one-parent families, and the children’s club provides them with somewhere safe to go instead of hanging around on streets.

“For many local residents, this church provides a symbolic sense of security, and it is the first place they turn to in times of emergency, distress, depression, grief or loneliness.”

The New Bevan Church was put up for sale by the owners, the London Baptist Property Board, in 2017, and many residents feared it would be bought by housing developers.

A campaign was launched to save the church, and more than 1,000 people signed a petition urging the owners to reconsider their decision to sell – but their efforts were unsuccessful.

Campaigners’ hopes were dealt a further blow when a charity’s bid to buy the building and continue its use as a church fell through last year.

But their spirits were lifted in April when Barnet Council listed the building as an asset of community value.

The council’s decision gave them six months to raise enough money to buy the church and maintain its current use.

New Bevan Church can only be sold to a community group during that period – but the owner will be free to sell it off to any interested party once the six months is up.

The Barnet Christian Fellowship has raised approximately £150,000 so far, but campaigners still face an uphill struggle to meet their overall target.

A Just Giving appeal has so far raised just £190.

Ms Howarth said they would be able to reach their £900,000 goal if everyone in Barnet gave just £2.

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