Joe and Annabelle Burns

“The community that we live among in Hackney has enriched our lives and our faith, and we hope that we have done the same for others.”

Annabelle Burns

Joe and Annabelle Burns have been part of their local community in Clapton, Hackney since they moved to London in 2000. Joe works as a centre manager at the Round Chapel where he manages community projects on behalf of Clapton Park United Reformed Church, and Annabelle works in the area as a speech and language therapist. Along with their two children Elliot (6) and Hattie (3) they are involved in the local church and community in many different ways.

For Joe and Annabelle living within the area that they work is essential and they have been saddened to see many of their close friends and community members being forced to leave the area as prices for buying and renting a home have risen. 'We love living in Hackney and the interconnections between our daily life, our children's lives, our neighbours, our church and community are vital to us,' says Annabelle. 'The community that we live among in Hackney has enriched our lives and our faith, and we hope that we have done the same for others. We feel strongly that this is where we are meant to be living.'

With the help of Mission Housing Joe and Annabelle were able to part-buy a house on the same street as the Round Chapel. They share their home with two lodgers (as well as two goldfish and a cat), and they have plenty of space to host social gatherings, meetings and events. 'We live just opposite the church so we're right in the heart of the community. People are often passing our door, waving from the street or popping in for one reason or another. There is a quote from the Iona community that rings true for us: "For the door of our house we open and the doors of our hearts we leave ajar". We feel that having an open house and a space where people can feel comfortable is important for the heart and soul of a community.'