A home for hospitality
“It was a humbling and incredible experience to have our need met by so many different people in this innovative way.”
Katherine Maxwell-Cook & Paul Maxwell-Rose
We’re part of a team of peacemakers from CHIPS (Christian International Peace Service) living on estates in South London to work with communities affected by youth violence. We believe it’s essential to live in the heart of where the conflict is to really understand the context and build deep, long-lasting relationships.
CHIPS is based in Brixton, a complex area where incredible culture vibrancy, huge social deprivation and increasing gentrification sit uneasily alongside each other. Finding somewhere to live is a real challenge because of very high rental and house prices, as well as many properties needing a lot of work. It took us a long time to find our house and many other options fell through which was financially costly and disheartening. With a baby on the way, friends and family suggested we should widen our search area so we would have more options, but we really believed that it was right for us to live this estate.
We eventually found a property which was an amazing space but needed totally gutting and a massive refurbishment. Mission Housing enabled us to do a shared ownership arrangement to buy the property along with several very generous investors. It was a humbling and incredible experience to have our need met by so many different people in this innovative way. Mission Housing were able to finance the building work which needed doing on the property which we would never have been able to afford ourselves. The house is now unrecognisable; what was once a dark, run-down and unappealing place is now an open, light space which we love and enjoy inviting others into. This means we can now invite our neighbours in and build relationships with the community through invites to get togethers, including at Christmas and we’re about to start a monthly tea and cake afternoon on Saturdays.
A massive blessing is our big garden which is great for BBQs and summer parties; we’ve found that a garden is much less of a threatening space than a house and such a good way to bring people together. Our hope and prayer is that people will experience the hospitality that God offers to all as they step into our home and when we meet locally on the street. Breaking down barriers and building a strong community where seeds of peace will be sown. As well as welcoming people in, the central location of the flat is key and means that as we go around the area we often see and chat with young people and others who Paul knows through the youth work done by CHIPS. Since our son was born last August, taking him for walks has been a great opportunity for more of these chance interactions to happen, all of which are great opportunities to build relationships and community bonds, and be a loving presence. Seeing young men who often have to put on a tough front to their peers warmly engage and play with our young baby when we bump into each other in the street has been a highlight.
The experience of buying and living in our house has been truly faith-building; and we continue to learn more every day of what God is calling us to do here. None of this would be possible without the vision, wisdom, and support of Mission Housing. We see them as a pioneering organisation paving the way for Christians to live in the inner-city areas which God is calling them to. The impact of Mission Housing’s work spreads across the city in unseen but powerful ways. We’re deeply grateful for this family home that we hope will also bless many others in the community.