TOTS have a new place to play after a church was able to take on a £325,000 loan with a difference.
City Life Church drew a blank after applying for grants and funding to extend its base in Sunderland.
Church members were left in a quandary, as high street lenders often refuse loans to charities, and they wanted to borrow from an ethical lender.
They then turned to Charity Bank, which offers loans to charities, community organisations and social enterprises across the country, and they were able to borrow enough to double in size – by building an extension to the church in Hylton Road.
The extension is now being used as a community hub home to a toddler group and a 60-plus club.
The building took a year to construct, with help from Gentoo.
Church pastor Kevin Clarke said: “We had a piece of land next to the church building, and we were able to build on there. Now, we have a toddler group on Tuesdays, a 60-plus lunch club on Wednesdays and a youth programme, called New Generation, on Friday nights.
“The whole building is being used for the community.”
Mr Clarke, of Ryhope, said other organisations are now interested in renting out rooms in the building, which will help clear the church’s debt.
The £325,000 loan is repayable over 25 years, at an interest rate of about six per cent. He added: “The Charity Bank invests in good projects, which was important to us.
“They agree to keep the rate at about six per cent, which means, for a charity, you know where you are.”
A spokesman for Charity Bank said: “As a bank established to provide affordable loan finance to the third sector, our terms reflect our mission, and we aim to make the loan process as simple as possible for our borrowers.”
For more information on City Life Church, established in Sunderland for more than six decades, visit www.clcsunderland.org