What is Levenshulme Inspire?
Inspire is a multi-purpose community venue based inside a former church building. Inspire is a beautiful, thriving and well-loved Centre owned by the people of Levenshulme. Take a look around our site to see how you can eat, meet, drink, learn and play here.
The Inspire ethos is to put on events, classes and activities which benefit the people of the surrounding area through community activity, creativity, enterprise and fun. But we also aim to draw people in from further afield to both take part in our activities and to see the positive aspects of our neighbourhood.
And how do we put such diverse events on? Inspire has an onsite café with room for around 50 covers which is open from Monday to Saturday each week, three functions rooms of different sizes available for hire for classes, activities, children’s birthday parties, film screenings etc, as well as a business suite where people can hotdesk. As well as this the kitchen and café area can be hired out in the evenings for pop-up restaurants, special occasions, food preparation for small businesses, cookery classes, and catering for events. The list of how you can use Inspire is only limited by our ethos of providing events and activities which benefit local residents and our neighbourhood.
We are also a great base for corporate bookings with a social responsibility edge. If you work for a company which is keen on committing to communities through their corporate social responsibility policy then look no further when you need a venue for training days, Board meetings and recruitment days. And make use of our on-site catering facilities while you’re here.
We are based in a former church building in Levenshulme, a busy urban suburb in Manchester, just outside of the City Centre, with easy access links by road, train and bus.
If you have an idea for an event and would like to discuss it please contact us.
Our vision and values
At Levenshulme Inspire we seek to raise the aspirations of the individual and unlock the potential of the community, from the very youngest to the very oldest, through providing holistic services and opportunities to create a better future for the people of South Manchester.
Levenshulme Inspire will always …
… be a place where people feel inspired and supported to turn their dreams into realities;
… offer community-led services that promote the material, emotional and spiritual well-being of residents of Levenshulme and further afield;
… energise a movement of people committed to working together to build fair and fulfilling communities in Manchester;
… become a sustainable social enterprise balancing economic, social and environmental viability.
Unlocking potential, inspiring community
Did you know?
Every week around 500 people enjoy different activities at Inspire, making around 2000 ‘user sessions’ of activity a month or 48,000 people-hours of learning and fun.
Did you know?
According to the HACT Social Value Bank community activity at Inspire has a financial value it could be worth £925,000.
Levenshulme Chapel or Congregational Church is likely to have been founded in the early 1860s. The earliest documented records relating to Levenshulme Congregational Church are a set of accounts for the year 1869-70 and a short note of a Deacon’s Meeting of 1870. In 1909 the “Cong School” was built and opened in a building adjoined to the church but it appears to have struggled during the First World War and subsequently reverted to being a Sunday School.
During the 1930s life at Levenshulme Congregational Church was very busy with two church services and two Sunday School meetings every Sunday as well as a wide range of activities during the week. These included Brownies and Guides, Women’s Guild, Life Boys. Boys Brigade a Dramatic Society and occasional outings and social events. Some folk still remember Sunday School’s very popular outings to Prestatyn and Heaton Park: the outing in 1937 involved 162 people. During the Second World War, people say that the activities of the church were the centre of their lives – not least as young people – and this is reflected in some pages of the Sunday School Roll of Attendance from 1948-49 which shows 72 Sunday School members.
Levenshulme Congregational Church became Levenshulme United Reformed Church in 1972 when the Congregational and Presbyterian churches were joined by an Act of Parliament but during the 1970s and 1980s the congregation dwindled further and Sunday School activities also experienced unfortunate setbacks. Throughout the 1990s the loyal congregation organised their own preacher and organist each week but remained active in the local community, running activities such as bowling and bring and buy sales and hosting a wide range of community activities including a twice-weekly parent and toddler group, Line Dancing and even Egyptian belly-dancing but slowly the building fell into disrepair to the point where, by 2005, most building users had to withdraw.
The redevelopment of the Levenshulme URC (United Reformed Church) building began in March 2009. The redevelopment involved demolishing the old ‘Sunday School’ and replacing it with a modern, glass-fronted building which houses the reception and Inspire Café on the ground floor and apartments above. It also involved significant refurbishment of the church building itself making space for the Inspire Suite, social media suite and community meeting room on the ground floor, the business centre on the first floor and apartments on the floors above.
The entire redevelopment cost nearly £3million. It was funded from a number of sources: the Homes and Communities Agency, the Big Lottery Fund, Great Places Housing Group, Manchester City Council and the United Reformed Church.
A more detailed history of the church can be downloaded here.
MEET THE TEAM
Every year, Inspire produces an Annual Report which includes details of our activities and finances. You can download our most recent annual reports here.
The Inspire Partnership
Inspire is constituted as Levenshulme Inspire Community Enterprises Community Interest Company (CIC) with its Memorandum and Articles of Association including details of how all profits and assets are ‘locked’ for the benefit of the community. Its Companies House number is 06527975 and it was registered on 07/03/2008. As well as setting the strategic direction of the organisation, the CIC holds the long lease for the Inspire Centre and has direct responsibility for all management and operational issues relating to the Inspire Centre, including the appointment of the staff team.
The wider Inspire Partnership also operates a co-operative and a charity. The Inspire Forum is an Industrial Provident Society for the Benefit of the Community. The Inspire Forum has more than 200 ‘members’ and is the primary means by which building users help to shape the activities of Inspire. The Inspire Forum elects two representatives to sit on the Board of the CIC.
The Inspire Foundation is a CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation) with its own set of trustees. It’s Charity Number is 1163533 and it was registered on 14/09/2015. The Foundation has been established in order to run project-based activities, particularly with target beneficiary groups. Very often these are grant-funded with separate and ring-fenced funds and staff and for this reason we want to keep this activity separate from the CIC and IPS activities.
Board and Trustees
The Inspire CIC Board consists of founding members as well as representatives from the community, the church, partner agencies and centre users.
Each board member plays an active role in some aspect of centre life from covering reception on Saturday mornings, to running Toddler Group, to fundraising, to offering non-managerial support to staff.
Ed Cox – chair, church leader & local resident
Emily Johnson – finance director & local resident
Joe Graham – centre user representative & local resident
Ciara Davies – Great Places representative & local resident
Jane Dudley – Manchester City Council representative
Tracey Annette – Inspired People Project representative
Anne Priest – church member
Andrew Ward – church member & local resident
The Inspire Foundation Trustee Board is made up of the following people:
Andy Hall – chair, church minister and local resident
Ed Cox – secretary and local resident
Khalsoom Khalil – centre user representative & local resident
Jean Bernard – centre user representative & local resident
Anne Priest – church member
Inspire is a social enterprise and most of its activity and income is generated through people paying for its services – this gives us autonomy and focuses our efforts on quality and value. But the Inspire Foundation has been established to raise money to pay for activities where it is very difficult or inappropriate for its beneficiaries to pay.
The Inspire Foundation is focusing its energy on developing activities for two groups of people who have told us they need particular support:
Older people – after a year researching the needs of older people in Levenshulme we set up the Inspired People’s Project, an initiative to run activities to tackle isolation in the neighbourhood. In the past few years we have worked with running Happy Mondays advice sessions, computer buddies, armchair aerobics and other initiatives outside the centre to make Levenshulme an age-friendly neighbourhood. You can read more about the IPP project by visiting our LEARN HERE page.
New arrivals – many visitors tell us that having just arrived in Levenshulme, the Inspire Centre is one place they find a warm welcome and a listening ear. But new arrivals get little support to integrate in their new found community. Inspire provides a range of activities to learn English and again you can read more about these on our LEARN HERE page.
The Inspire Foundation is also developing ideas about a new project called ELEVATE which aims to make the Inspire Centre a local hub for groups and activities which help to build an inclusive and empowering neighbourhood. ELEVATE will have three objectives:
- To encourage, support and promote activities that bring people from different backgrounds together and break down prejudice and misunderstanding.
- To welcome, help and empower people who might feel isolated or excluded to feel able to play their part as active citizens in our neighbourhood.
- To make the Inspire Centre a hub for learning and sharing ideas about integration and empowerment and a beacon for other neighbourhoods in Greater Manchester and beyond.
During 2017 we will pilot a number of new activities and ideas as we develop a more detailed work programme to achieve these objectives and shape our thinking.
The inspiration behind Inspire came from a small group of church members who had the vision to look beyond their own frailty and their dilapidated building to see the potential for the vibrant community hub that Inspire has become. In sharing their asset with the community and having faith in working in partnership with others they have realised their dreams.
More than that, where once the congregation had dwindled to just 7 people, it is now thriving with Sunday services bringing together over 50 people of every age and background.
All of the activities at the Inspire Centre are open to people of all faiths and no visitors are ever indoctrinated or coerced into Christian faith. Furthermore, church finances are kept completely separately from those of the centre and the church receives no income from centre revenues or grants. Church members do though play an active role in all aspects of centre life: from running the toddler group to volunteering in the café. It is through its care-in-action that the church expresses its faith at Inspire.
More information about Inspire Church can be found on www.inspirechurch.co.uk.