When full, Scargill House could accommodate 80 people and was run by a team of 30. One of its mainstays was weekend courses for visiting church choirs. Other groups or individuals came to engage in activities like walking, painting and embroidery, although some of the annual programme was dictated by the Christian calendar, offering Easter and Advent retreats. The house was also extensively used by school groups on field trips.
One of the most attractive features in the 100-acre grounds is the large broadleaved woodland which is Forestry Stewardship Council accredited and used by local schools and students for nature study.
Back inside the house, New Year had become a special time to welcome asylum seekers. In fact, Scargill House had deliberately changed its emphasis in recent years from appealing mainly to white, English middle-class Anglicans to drawing in people of many different backgrounds, especially those of diverse nationalities and faiths.
Central to this has been its "MythBusters" programme for breaking down barriers between faiths and social classes. It takes groups of children from widely different backgrounds and involves them in activities like circus skills while encouraging them to discuss how they're really not very different from each other.
This work is set to continue, and David Baker's sorrow at selling up is at least tempered by some optimism for the future. The money that will be raised from the sale – possibly as much as £5m, although the final valuation has not been made – will be used to set up a Christian foundation.
"I see it as turning ourselves inside-out," he says. "Instead of people coming to Scargill House for help, the new Foundation will go out into communities and fund projects, perhaps even pay for groups to stay at residential centres. So our work will definitely continue, it just won't be here at Scargill.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Yorkshire Post notice
of the Scargill closure: