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£1.1m Unity Bank funding helps Croydon church find a home

A South London Pentecostal church which was left homeless when its former community centre base closed four years ago has finally got a home of its own thanks to a seven-figure funding package from Unity Trust Bank.

Grace Tabernacle bought a derelict printworks in Grenaby Road, Croydon last year and following a refinance loan of £1.1m from the commercial bank with a social conscience, the building has been transformed.

Renamed Charis House, it offers a place of worship for its congregation and space for a range of educational and support programmes for adults and young people, including anti-knife crime initiatives and monitored liaison for estranged families.

Bishop Paul Reid (pictured), who has led the church since 1993, said: “We were renting space in a local school but this hampered the community outreach arm of the church.

“We are very community-focused. I’ve seen how lives have been transformed by the work we do, from single mums at their wits’ end to young people coming off the streets and joining youth programmes.

“With the impact the ministry can make in the community, we needed a permanent home to be able to run our support programmes.

“The building was a complete mess when we bought it and was in need of total refurbishment. It was also a huge financial undertaking but Unity Trust Bank saw our vision.

“They were very empathetic and liked our ethos. Many financial institutions can claim they’re people-friendly and community-focused but Unity Trust Bank really is.

“The pandemic has meant we can’t open yet and generate income but Unity have been very understanding and supportive. They’ve been remarkable.”

Charis House, which was bought for £1.85m and is now valued at more than £2m, has a car park, auditorium and office space which can be rented out to other community groups to generate additional revenue.

Matt Conroy, Relationship Manager at Unity Trust Bank, said: “We support organisations that share our values in wanting to make a positive difference to society.

“Grace Tabernacle is very active in the community, ensuring the church engages with residents and addresses local societal issues. We’re delighted they have a new base to continue their vital work.”

Grace Tabernacle was founded in 1970 by Bishop Reid’s father, the Rev Joseph Reid. Bishop Reid is currently Chair of the Croydon Churches Forum and sits on the Board of Together Croydon Churches, an umbrella collective of Black Majority Churches in the Borough of Croydon.

The church’s mantra is ‘Changing lives in a changing world’.

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