Paul & Jane – shared owners
“A shared ownership purchase with Mission Housing has given us a stable base from which to operate in east London and beyond.”
Jane and I returned to the UK in 2011 having worked overseas in mission & business as mission since ‘88, we have a calling for ‘East London, and beyond’.
Jane is a creative & was soon embraced by the Bengali arts scene, she became the only non-Bengali in an art collective; she created, exhibited and built some good relationships. She also volunteered at Arch 76 among marginalised women.
I started to volunteer with GrowTH. GrowTH is Tower hamlets churches response to homelessness; this past season 139 men & women were given shelter, 46 were moved into more permanent accommodation. But because of the shortage of housing stock frequently those that get rehoused often end up out of the borough; on the street they were part of a community, in the night shelter they are part of a community, but having received the keys to their dream; their own room or flat, they wake up the following morning, without community or a sense of belonging. Because of this need to provide community & offer discipleship we set up renewEL.
renewEL offers those who live on the margins the opportunity to belong, to earn money & do something useful. We started by upcycling old discarded furniture and then moved on to gathering discarded pallets around Bethnal Green & Whitechapel and turning them into useful pieces of rustic furniture, garden planters. And more recently under the leadership of Rachel Arnold, a landscape architect, the team have begun to beautify gardens, church yards and more. I don’t have time to tell you the stories of transformed lives; perhaps one, a long-term east end alcoholic, started to work with renewEL, pulling pallets apart, prepping them and making coffee tables, he walked into an east end church and went wide eyed when he saw a table he had made. He is now dry and serving God.
When Jane & I returned to the UK we moved home 8 times in 2 years. A shared ownership purchase with Mission Housing has given us a stable base from which to operate in east London and beyond.