Core support from the Methodist Church in Great Britain

In August last year, members of The Wesley Centre project team had very helpful discussions with colleagues from the Methodist Connexion (the top governing body of the Methodist Church) and the Yorkshire North & East District of the Methodist Church – and a number of important actions have now been implemented which will assist with the final phases of The Wesley Centre project. These include:

  • A review of our management business plan undertaken by a senior treasury analyst within the Connexional team, which has confirmed the Connexion’s support and enthusiasm for the project
  • The designation of the Malton project as a ‘model’ scheme, in reference to the new Connexional Property Strategy, and
  • Tangible support from the Connexion with a sum of £264,000 pledged towards the overall cost of the final phases of the project

Just before Christmas, a formal supportive letter was also received from the Chair of the Connexional Property Development Committee, the Revd Dr Stuart Burgess, and collectively, these initiatives are now expected to make a significant difference with our remaining fundraising programme, especially whilst we target a number of applications to key donor prospects and other major grant making trusts – and as we now have the underlying support of the Methodist Connexion too, we expect this part of the work to move forward positively at a quickened pace. All permissions are in place for the scheme and work will get underway as soon as 70% of funds are finally in place.

Final phases

Whilst we anticipate that the final phases of the project will be undertaken in parallel, that is, the reinstatement of the new three storey East Wing (Phase 3) creating an array of new variable sized meeting spaces and new service facilities for The Wesley Centre complex, and the sensitive re-ordering of the main sanctuary space (Phase 4), creating flexibility not only for worship but for a wide variety of community purposes – these elements have been separated as far as practically possible for clarity with our remaining fundraising work.  

Wesley Centre governance

Having created a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) in 2019 to operate and manage the Centre, we’ve appointed the accountancy firm of BHP and are completing the registration of the CIO for VAT; and in collaboration with the Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes, we’re working on the establishment of a new governance vehicle to manage the relationship between the Malton Church Council and the CIO.

At the centre of our community

During the last six months we’ve seen many positive changes towards our community outreach objectives – one of the core purposes of our transformational re-development. The Ryedale Free Fridge which has been hosted by The Wesley Centre for more than 14 months has now become a catalyst for many other support services, including drop-in sessions provided by Horton Housing (the prevention of homelessness), Malton Town Council, Malton Police, and the Ryedale District Council Community Team. With the cooperation of the major supermarkets in Malton, as well as many of the newer artisan food producers that have sprung up in the town, the ‘Fridge’ now typically serves between 400 and 500 people per week, and as consequence more than 11 tonnes of good food has also been diverted from landfill.  

As well as being home to many other community activities and public events, The Wesley Centre now also hosts a weekly Youth Club, operated by North Yorkshire County Council.

It all points to a validation of our perceived need for the re-development – and the opportunities this is creating for community engagement in Malton/ Norton and in the surrounding villages – one of the fastest growing centres of populous in southern Ryedale.