Our founder, Victoria Armstrong, first came to Manchester as a student in the early 1990s.
Having found affordable accommodation in Gorton, but not knowing the area, she was shocked by the levels of poverty and deprivation all around her.
As an outsider, Victoria experienced a great deal of abuse and aggression; she was robbed and had bricks thrown through her window. It was during this time that something remarkable happened. In 1992, Victoria became a Christian and her view of life changed.
Around this time, Victoria was inspired by a dream: "God gave me a vision for a building pumping out his unconditional love, showing me how much he loved this community of people." She saw lives being transformed and the city changed radically. Some years later, the first opportunity came to put these ideas into practice. Three asylum seekers visited Victoria's church one Sunday morning - tired, cold and in urgent need of help. The building was opened up and her church family got behind her efforts to ensure they got all the help they needed.
From this small seed, bigger ideas began to germinate. A small team began providing hot meals to local people - for some, it would be the only one they'd get all week. A great deal of tenacity and perseverance was required to build trust and credibility with local people, who were understandably sceptical in the early days. But by 2004, Oasis had started gaining momentum and recognition in the area, with regular clients realising The Oasis Centre was more than a short-term project - we are here to stay!
As trust grew, people started to tell us what would make a difference to their daily lives. In 2005, we took a big leap of faith and a great step forward by moving our Day Centre to our current home, Collier House, a Methodist hall. We began to reach many more people and welcome new volunteers.
Over time, the Oasis team became increasingly aware of the multiple generations of families living on benefits alone, and of the negative impact that this has on people - destroying ambition, and suffocating dreams of a brighter future. So, in 2015, we brought all of our services together in four linked projects: RE-BUILD, RE-ENGAGE, RE-SKILL, RE-START. The ambition of having a permanent building remained a theme throughout. The next chapter awaits...
The Oasis Centre founder & C.E.O.
"There is one thing we all have in common, no matter who we are. None of us chose where we were born or what family we would be raised in. It is only by the grace of God that I was brought up in a loving home with everything I could need to live well and healthily. This is why it is logical to me that if you see someone who hasn't had a good start in life, suffering abuse, neglect or poverty, you must get involved. You must show them the love you have been given. Unconditionally." - Victoria Armstrong