THE team behind the space-age conversion of a historic church has been given a £15,000 grant to help 50 people find a job.

All Souls is now looking for up to 50 unemployed local residents to carry out a skills for work training programme, as the £3.5 million project to transform the church, off Astley Street, nears completion.

The All Souls charity, which operates from the Cobden Community Centre next door to the church, is set to put together training packages and work experience opportunities for people in the Crompton ward, which includes parts of Astley Bridge and Halliwell.

Director Andrew Suter is now appealing for people to take part in the eight-month scheme as well as local businesses willing to take people on work experience.

Mr Suter said: “We are really keen to know what people want to do in this building. There are no boundaries in terms of age, religion or anything else. This is for the entire community.”

The £15,000 grant came from the European Social Fund.

Mr Suter, as well as events officer Jenni Smith and community officer Amy Llewellyn, are busy preparing for the official opening of the All Souls complex in November.

When it opens, the complex will include two rented office spaces, a coffee shop, a classroom, a media suite, a meeting room, a large conference room and a movie theatre.

Mr Suter, Ms Smith and Ms Llewellyn will be the only three full-time workers for All Souls, but they are hoping to recruit a host of volunteers to help make the All Souls project as inclusive as possible for the whole community.

Hidden gems from the past continue to turn up on the site of the Grade II listed church, which has the largest uninterrupted roof span — unsupported by any columns — of any church in the UK.

Recently, a piece of stone was unearthed dating back to 1660, a time when there was no church on the site.

It is believed to be from a private home built nearby which was inserted at the site to celebrate a wedding.

All Souls Church was built by well-known church architects Paley, Austin and Sharpe, and housed 800 worshippers.

It closed in 1983 and it eventually took 10 years for the refurbishment plan to be put together. Its identical sister church, All Saviours in Deane Road, Bolton, was demolished in the 1980s.

Anyone interested in applying for the training programme can email or call 01204 385868.