“The support and commitment of the team at Mission Housing has been such an encouragement to us and to the project itself.”
Christian International Peace Service (CHIPS) has just launched its latest project on the Angell Town and Loughborough estates in Brixton, London. These are areas where gang violence has been a problem for many years. The CHIPS team works to address issues among young people and bring reconciliation between different groups.
CHIPS, an international organisation with projects all over the world, employs a distinctive style of grassroots peacemaking in which a team lives at the level of the local people in an area of tension. Paul Rose, CHIPS Director, Josh Grear, London Team Leader and volunteer Alex Cameron live on the Loughborough estate and share their lives with one another and the wider community. Every Wednesday they host an 'open meal' at their flat where local residents are invited to eat with them and share stories. They also build relationships through detached youth work, visiting schools and running community football games. The long-term aim is to work with the community and other organisations to design practical activities that serve the needs of local people. These projects will create spaces for relationships to be established across the conflict divides in the area. 'We are currently building positive relationships within the community,' says Josh, 'with neighbours, local organisations and so many others - all made possible by the fantastic opportunity to live in, and become part of, the community we are serving.'
Paul, Josh and Alex have been living in a flat bought for them by Mission Housing since April 2015. 'Mission Housing were hugely encouraging in their commitment and persistence to our vision,' says Paul. 'After some patient months of searching, negotiating and hard work, we now have a fantastic three-bedroom flat on the border between Angell Town and Loughborough estates. My first viewing of the flat was walking into a building site as Mission Housing invested in a new kitchen, carpets and a lovely new coat of paint for the flat. It has made the flat a really welcoming and homely environment where we feel settled and where visitors are made warmly welcome.'
The rent the team pay to Mission Housing is very affordable which allows them to be able to work part-time and still afford to live in the area, freeing up more of their time to engage positively in the community. 'The support and commitment of the team at Mission Housing has been such an encouragement to us and to the project itself,' says Josh, 'especially as now they are looking to buy a second flat nearby for two more of our team members. None of this would have been possible without their help - praise God for Mission Housing!'