Despina Beales, president of the Greek Community of Milton Keynes, explains how the community used loans from an ethical bank to help it become a bustling meeting point, enriching peoples' lives through parties and praise.
The Greek Orthodox Community of Milton Keynes and surrounding districts was founded in 1989 and was registered as a charity in September 2006.
With a growing community and increasing requests for more events and services, we decided it was time to get a place of our own. We used two Charity Bank loans to help develop key facilities, including a Greek school. One loan was used to buy a redundant Anglican church building and another to buy and renovate the derelict church hall next door.
That was in 2009 and 2010. Six years later, our community continues to grow. We have a regular congregation, which can attract up to 300 people during festivals. In addition to services of worship in Greek in which some English is used, we’re now in a position to support and enable other Orthodox Christians from various countries to practice their cultural ways and to benefit from the buildings. Our language school has around 40 pupils, adult classes are available too. Our community events attract up to 200 people.
We now make a steady income hiring the hall to the wider community for leisure activities and volunteer support groups. The hall is a popular venue for children’s parties, especially during summer months as the rear garden is enclosed and secure.
The main hall, the well equipped kitchen together with the small meeting/dining room at the back (which also houses a lockable bar) and well laid out grounds makes it a well used facility which is continuously being improved. The complex of church, hall and grounds enriches the town.