Vinelife Church is a faith-based organisation. We took on a secured loan to diversify their income and carry on serving their community.
"Encountering God. Empowering People. Engaging Our City"
Local churches can exist to serve themselves in an ancient building/hired space. They can exist by asking the local community to come and use them as a service provider. Most churches have a charitable status and it helps them fulfil some of their charitable obligations. But for the most part they focus on their main service provider - the faith they support.
We aren't a parish church, so we had to be highly intentional around our engagement of the community. This is in particular in areas of need. In our history, we were locked into the cycle of just providing a service for christians. Rather than working out how to love and serve the community we were in.
We realised as a local church, with about 500 adults and 120 kids, there's a lot of activity happening in the area. We're trans-local. Which means whilst we're based in one area, people will come from all over Manchester to worship.
Even down to where our staff were based, most were driving 35 minutes to go to an office complex.
We were spending £50,000 a year just on the rent of the office complex. So ten years ago I landed in this post and one of my first decisions was to change the building to love and serve wider Manchester.
One of things at the heart of this church is to serve the most poor and vulnerable in the city, especially homeless people. Food and clothes is primarily the support people offer in the city. We were part of that process but in the last 10 years we had to consider how to deal with the bigger issues that lie behind homelessness.
When the pub over the road went on the market we decided to buy it and turn it into a community hub and coffee house. We decided to buy the Whitworth Arms and turn it into the Anchor Coffee House.
Charity Bank gave us finance to buy the pub. We employed some managers but also relied on volunteer staff to man that. Any money we make is re-distributed to support the homelessness projects in Manchester.
We borrowed £300,000 over 20 years at a 6% interest rate. We've almost paid it off (ahead of time) and are going to refinance it to buy a new building. This we'll use to scale-up our impact. We’ll be working with Charity Bank again and it will be at a much lower rate of interest (3%).
We moved towards a loan from Charity Bank to enable us to do something we were dreaming about. Alongside this, they gave us the opportunity to re-define how we were going to think about our church and charity. Giving us the opportunity to love and serve the community we're based in.
In the first year, we were voted in the Top 10 Coffee Houses in Manchester.