Where it all began
The Methodist Insurance Fund (now Benefact Trust’s Methodist Grants Programme) was established in 2016 to enhance the mission and ministry of the Methodist Church in the UK and Ireland.
Mainly funded by donations from Methodist Insurance PLC, the grants programme provides funding to Methodist churches to run inspiring building and development projects that focus on church growth, greater community engagement, and improved accessibility - and more recently supporting repair and maintenance projects that are essential for the ongoing mission and ministry of an organisation.
The launch of the grants programme was the start of Methodist Insurance’s major giving, but by no means the beginning of the story; giving back to the Methodist church has been a focus throughout Methodist Insurance’s 150-year history – as shown in this unearthed grants article from 1972, A Century of Service to Methodism.
Stories of impact
Since its establishment, the Methodist Grants Programme has awarded over £11m to more than 240 churches. Over the years, we have seen a huge range of ambitious projects, but all with the same aim – to make a positive impact and improve the lives of communities.
Here is a selection of some of the inspiring projects to date…
New day centre in the most disadvantaged area of England
A grant of £58,500 from Benefact Trust’s Methodist Grants Programme supported Trinity Methodist Church in Clacton-on-Sea to upgrade its church facilities and provide an improved environment to serve the needs of people experiencing homelessness, young families, and community groups in the area.
The new hub has given the church the ability to expand its outreach programmes and provide much needed facilities for the homeless, including washing facilities and a training kitchen where clients can learn valuable life skills.
Healing the wounds of ex-mining communities
£56,750 funding from the Methodist Grants Programme is helping Bolsover Methodist Church to transform lives in a disadvantaged, post-industrial area of Derbyshire. The redevelopment of the current church building will provide more space and flexibility for worshippers, community groups, and the Freedom Community Project – a highly respected charity which supported 799 people from post-industrial areas of Derbyshire and Sheffield in 2020.
A garden for the whole community
People in Leiston will enjoy the benefits of a community garden, following a £39,000 Methodist grant to Leiston United Church in Suffolk.
The church sits in the heart of Leiston, with its church hall providing the town’s most central community facility. On the church grounds there is an unused outdoor space which will be turned into an inspirational public space which will inject new life into the town. The garden will feature a bandstand for performances, space for food and craft markets and a community thoroughfare to local retail outlets.
The bridge between
Barry Uniting Church in Wales was awarded £80,000 from the Methodist Grants Programme towards the construction of its £1.3 million ‘The Bridge Between Centre’ – a new, multipurpose community and church building in the redeveloped docks area of Barry.
The new space includes a café providing long-term employment for people with disabilities, accessible toilets, a sanctuary, a 150-seat hall, and a garden created by the community for the community.
Tackling homelessness in Northern Ireland
A £90,000 grant from Benefact Trust’s Methodist Grants Programme will help East Belfast Mission to develop an innovative, housing-focussed project in Northern Ireland, connecting those experiencing homelessness with the church and community.
The new project will see the redevelopment of a disused building in East Belfast into six private apartments for people ready to take the next steps towards independence, and move on from East Belfast Mission’s existing hostels. The building will also have a community relations space for community groups, church activities, and wider relationship building.
Looking to the future
These projects offer a taste of the amazing work going on in Methodist Churches across the UK and Ireland, and how we’re supporting them. But we know we’re only scratching the surface and we want to make a bigger impact…
That’s why we’re inviting Methodist Churches across the UK and Ireland to apply to Benefact Trust’s Methodist Grants Programme so that we can help to support as many people and communities as possible.
*Header image: A photo fit for the 150th celebration! This is from Blackhill and Shotley Bridge Uniting Methodist Church who received a £78,000 Methodist Grant in 2021.