Local Business Network breaks down church barriers

First published 7th May 2020

Reaching out to the community can mean different things in different contexts. Fr Charles Sutton, Vicar at All Saints Clifton, reflects on how the church is offering the Christian message to the shops and businesses in Clifton:

Residential, leafy Clifton is packed with retail outlets, service providers and businesses.

Most of these are independent companies, investing time, money and effort in their enterprises to provide living incomes. They are also very much part of the living community; many dependent upon local trade, whilst at the same time contributing to the wellbeing of the community.


A feature of All Saints is that, like all our churches, it ‘faces out’ to differing communities - providing them with space, enabling each to be aware of the other and creating opportunities for support to be given across these often-invisible boundaries. It is very much in the spirit of ‘Creating connections’.

One example of this is the Local Business Network. In 2018, over the period of a month, a small team of volunteers visited every business located in the parish. Each was provided with some information about the wide range of activities taking place at All Saints (concerts, exhibitions, lectures, meetings and worship) and invited to a Summer Drinks Party in the gardens. This led to developing a database of nearly 400 local businesses.

Since that first Summer Drinks Party in 2018, the Business Network has been invited to a number of other events (from exhibitions to local history talks). The purpose of this has been to:

  • Introduce people to a living, active and outfacing church
  • Provide an opportunity for the businesses to network and exchange ideas
  • Increase awareness of local social issues – homelessness, modern slavery, loneliness, living with dementia
  • Enable opportunities for collective focus
  • And reinforce the sense of community


The response from business has been incredibly positive:

One of the most important parts of being in the community is for us to be somewhere that is known for providing community-led events and being a place where everyone is welcome and included.” Holly and Becca, Alma Tavern.

Previously I wouldn’t really have thought about going into church but in the last couple of years so many different things have been taking place at All Saints it’s really become a hub in the community.The Network is great because it gives opportunity to find out about other people’s businesses and has led to more business between us all – as well as making great local connections.” Darrell and Vince, Altered Image, Hairdressers.

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