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/ 27 February 2013

Bond to help house community workers

The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, and The Bishop of Stepney, Adrian Newman, have joined with representatives of Affordable Christian Housing, The Contextual Theology Centre and Eden Network to launch an innovative new housing bond at Mercers’ Hall.

The new London Missional Housing Bond will see the Diocese of London working in partnership with these organisations to raise £2million of investment to provide housing for Christian community workers in some of the most deprived 10% of estates in the capital, where high rental prices in the private sector mean that it has not been possible for community workers to live on site previously. One of the new initiatives that the bond could contribute to is the new Stepney Area intern scheme, due to begin in September. The interns will be linked to parishes in areas of deprivation in East London.

The Bishop of Stepney, Adrian Newman, commented:

"The Diocese of London is working with many partner organisations in the capital to inspire a new generation of young people to experience, understand and serve local communities in the inner city. In East London, we are launching a Stepney Area intern scheme for young people who are called to this mission. A vital key to the success of this scheme is being able to provide affordable housing, so I welcome the launch of this initiative that will help us find a long term solution and enable more young Christians, like those joining our scheme in Stepney, to pursue their vocation for the benefit of local communities in the most deprived parts of London."

The launch was the beginning of a drive to attract an initial £2million of investment in the bond from investors in the capital, who will benefit not only from a rate of return but the social impact that they will enable. The partnership has also received the support of The Mercers’ Company.

Daniel Haigh, London Regional Director of The Eden Network, commented:

"We must address the issue of accommodation if we are to reach the inner city where just to move in you are required to pay upfront your rental deposit, advance rent and estate agents fees (all plus VAT) costing £3,300 for a fourth floor one bedroom flat, at which point you have to be able to afford monthly rent of £1,300, on a youth worker salary. That is the experience of Eden team leaders and members who are prepared be ‘downwardly mobile’ and commit to at least 5 years to a church and community. However it is not sustainable in the long term as inevitably salaries will not match rent increases and the rising cost of living."

Jim Gilbourne, Chief Executive of Affordable Christian Housing, commented:

"We’re proud to be acting as the key delivery partner for this initiative, utilising our experience of raising funds from people who want to support Christian mission in London, by directing their resources into the provision and management of affordable accommodation."

Canon Dr Angus Ritchie, Director of The Contextual Theology Centre, said:

"The local congregation is a powerful force for social transformation. That’s now recognised far beyond the church’s walls. This Bond will help us place community organisers and other workers in inner-city churches to make the impact even greater."

More information about the bond can be found at: www.affordablechristianhousing.org/bond/.

About Communications

The diocesan communications team provides support to the network of clergy, churches, parishes and other worshipping communities that comprises the Diocese of London, as well as to the staff teams of the London Diocesan Fund.

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