A CHURCH has been awarded ‘Eco Church’ status for its commitment to the environment and sustainability - which has included creating ‘twin toilets’ in Sierra Leone and Afghanistan.

Hoyland and Birdwell Methodist Church, on Sheffield Road, Birdwell, has received the accreditation through environmental action group A Rocha UK.

The church, community link worker Peter White said, has improved its insulation, cleaning and recycling methods.

Churches are typically costly to run by their nature - as typically very old buildings - but Hoyland and Birdwell Methodist Church was built in 2004 meaning it’s at an advantage in that regard.

As part of the scheme, it’s also placed a new emphasis on community work - such as supporting the local ‘community fridge’ and hosting a foodbank, and litter picking.

The church is also planning to open a wildlife-friendly community garden with planters for local people to use.

The ‘twin toilet’ scheme sees donations sent to build toilets in deprived communities, giving them access to vital clean water.

“The Church as a whole has identified a need for more to be done - it’s not really been at the forefront of church life,” said Peter, 41.

“It’s not just changing our energy use. It’s lots of little steps.

“Part of being a church is caring for God’s world - it’s central to our views - and in the past it’s sometimes been shoved to the back of the shelf.

“It’s a big driver now for all churches to go in that direction.

“It’s an ongoing thing - we have got the bronze award, and we’re heading towards silver and gold.”