Church and charity become fully independent bodies

City Hearts was founded in 2005 by Jenny Gilpin – founding co-pastor of Hope City Church – with a vision to fully restore those with a history of vulnerability and exploitation. City Hearts began with a single home, where church volunteers helped women with life controlling issues. Shortly after we received our first survivor of modern slavery. 

Over 3500 survivors have now been supported through the work of City Hearts. We continue to operate our services across the United Kingdom and internationally, helping over 150 survivors a year through our safehouses. 

City Hearts business is different in scale and substance from 2011-12 and it had become increasingly clear that the charity needed to become fully independent of Hope City Church with its own management structure and independent board of Trustees.

Since 2015, City Hearts had its own distinct board of Trustees, who were externally judged to be independent-thinking professionals with specialist experience relevant to the charity. The independence of this board was further strengthened by the addition of external members with no relationship to the church. By summer 2020, a full legal separation had taken place. The Articles of both church and charity are clear that Hope City Church has no controlling influence, written or unwritten, over any element of charity operation, including the appointment of Trustees. This is to be represented in the Accounts going forwards.

Financial separation 

Although members of Hope City Church have been involved in fundraising for City Hearts over the years, City Hearts is funded entirely separately from Hope City Church, and in no way relies upon the church for funding, income or delivery of services.  

For many years, City Hearts has operated its own financial team who are responsible for financial decision-making alongside management. Until recently there has been a Service Level Agreement for Hope City Church to provide financial processing services for City Hearts. This agreement has not been continued by City Hearts, and the services will not be provided beyond March 2021, in line with the end of the financial year.

City Hearts have had a tenancy agreement covering their headquarters within The Megacentre, a building owned by Hope City Church. The charity trustees recently made the unanimous decision to expedite a move from these premises by the end of the 2020-21 financial year. 

Policy and procedure

City Hearts has its own policies and procedures in place, which are specific to its work and uphold the highest industry standards. All policies are reviewed regularly and are audited by our commissioning bodies, who have found them to be robust and thorough. In 2018, a management board was created with sole responsibility for policy and procedures.

Cultural separation 

The charity holds its own distinct values, which are entirely separate from those of Hope City Church. These values are consistent throughout policy and procedures, which are updated regularly, and all staff are expected to uphold and demonstrate those values, which are embedded within the charity’s Code of Conduct. All staff have received a wide range of equality and diversity training, which is outsourced, to underpin these values. 

We seek to employ the highest calibre of candidates, with relevant professional experience. Throughout the recruitment process, we ensure equal opportunities, including managing any conflicts of interest that may arise, using independent professionals as interviewers where needed. We are currently putting in place measures to encourage greater diversity across our staff team and management, in order to better represent the clients we are supporting. 

50% of our management board, including CEO Ed Newton, are not members of Hope City Church. Our founder, Jenny Gilpin has also moved back to her Australian homeland and has no involvement in any areas of the charity.