“Mission Housing's understanding and support of this vision has been incredible and they never gave up hope even when all looked impossible.”
Kerry Astin lives and ministers on the Patmore estate in south-west London. This community experiences gang violence with 25 known gangs operating in the boroughs of Lambeth and Wandsworth*, whose border the estate straddles. Poverty is also a key issue – the area is in the bottom 10% of income deprivation and one in three people are unemployed*.
In 2012 Kerry founded FAST to bring hope and a different perspective to the young people on the estate. Through relationships, coaching, practical advice and events, staff and volunteers work with young people to help them create a vision for their lives that goes beyond the violence and poverty they experience.
Part of FAST’s approach is for youth workers to walk round the local area and connect with young people in their environment. Kerry has also taken this approach with her choice to live in the locality for the last 12 years, sharing her life with the people of the estate. ‘I fell in love and longed to get into the nitty-gritty of the estate and to be able to call this my community,’ says Kerry. She has seen God bring transformation as she has invested her life in the people there. ‘Initially, I spent a lot of time walking the streets meeting people and praying,’ she says. ‘There was very little obvious progress but the reality was that the atmosphere gradually got lighter and key relationships were built with people that opened doors to others on the estate and a foundation was laid for FAST.’
Having lived in the community for several years, it took Kerry a long time to move onto the estate itself. Mission Housing were able to help Kerry make this happen: ‘After six long years exploring every avenue to try to move onto the estate, Mission Housing have made it possible for me to finally get here and to be a proper part of the community,’ says Kerry. ‘I have dreamt of a community of Christians living on the estate, being intentional with our neighbours and serving the community in whatever way needed, and now this is happening. I have amazing housemates who are also passionate about community and want to live intentionally on this estate. In addition I am seeing the huge difference it makes to the young people knowing that we don’t leave their world at the end of every day and that we are in it with them. Mission Housing's understanding and support of this vision has been incredible and they never gave up hope even when all looked impossible.’* Source: http://emergeonline.org.uk/fast-london/