life in a community house: Anna’s story

Hello friends, so awhile back I told you about living in a community house, where we share money, eat together, holiday together, and basically choose to behave as a family even though we are not related or married to one another.

I thought you might like to know a bit more about how all this feels, and so I interviewed my housemate Anna, to get her part of the picture. Anna is truly amazing, she has a really cool story of how she moved to Coventry which shows how powerfully brave she is. She also loves children, and every year leads the teaching at a summer camp for 300-400 preschoolers! In our house, she’s kind of the ‘practical one’, who remembers to take bins out, sort the bills, etc. She also has a wonderful sense of humour 🙂

Tell us a bit about who you are.

I’m Anna! 29 (but I try to stay in touch with my inner child!). I love having a giggle (including practical jokes like dressing up as a monkey on my mate’s doorstep); I love God’s creation and going on walks; to relax, I enjoy hanging out with mates, playing games, watching films and eating nice food!

How did you come to live in Coventry?

Before living with Chernise in Coventry, I used to live with my family in Bracknell (45 minutes from London on the train) and was a primary school teacher. And although I loved working with the kids, I found the workload and pressures less and less enjoyable and ended up having no life outside of school. A few things happened, which I believe were from God, that gave me a lifeline — a friend of mine lived in Coventry, so I used to come up and stay with her. One time, she invited me to come along to Kidz Klub (a Christian charity working with kids in deprived areas across the city, sharing love and having fun together!) and I fell in love with it!

Then, a 19 year old girl I knew suddenly died in her sleep, and this made me think life is too short to stay in something you really don’t enjoy. I felt God say “GO TO COVENTRY + SHARE LOVE OUTSIDE THE SCHOOL CONTEXT!”

I was excited yet very scared — I had to quit my job without any paid work to come to, nowhere to live, and only one friend I knew! But I did it, and it was the best decision I’ve made — I’ve got to know some amazing people, have loads of friends, have great housemates, I’m now employed by Kidz Klub and love my job and the families I work with!

How did you end up living in a community house?

Myself and one of my housemates wanted to make life a bit more meaningful than just having four walls around us — that’s when we decided to commit and invest in each other, e.g. sharing money a bit more, eating together, helping each other. We then wanted to invite Chernise and our other housemate into that, and we’ve developed this community even more — still got lots we could do to make life even more meaningful, but it’s fun/challenging along the way!

What’s really great about living in community?

Even though I’m a few hundred miles away from my family, I have a family right here in Coventry who I can be myself with and know we’re all looking out for each other, have fun together, go deeper with. I have a great family right here in Cov!

I can think of many occasions where we’ve laughed and cried — there have been recent times of sadness that we’ve had to deal with as a household, but it would have been so much harder on our own as individuals.

What do you find hardest about living in community?

If I’ve got a problem/feeling sorry for myself/done something wrong, I can’t just run away from my issues. I’ve committed to this community so I’ve got to face my issues, be honest with my housemates, be open and vulnerable, say sorry, learn from my mistakes, accept challenge, give challenge. This is not a place you just give up on! But although this may be hard sometimes, I 100% think it’s right and although I might want to hide in the corner, I know that’s not the best thing to do.

What’s one especially funny/cool thing that’s happened in the house?

It was amazing how we got our furniture when we moved into our previous house — we had nothing and the house was unfurnished, so we got given pretty much everything. And our entire living room coordinated. It felt like God was our interior designer!
[Me: this, by the way, is completely true…all the chairs and tables we got given were made of wood, and our soft furnishings were all shades of blue and white, with some brown tones. PLUS we had two identical wooden rocking chairs given to us separately, by different people — it was crazy.]

We’ve also had a pigeon stuck up our chimney, which really took community living to another level…

Thanks, Anna! You are incredible. I love living with you — especially for your sense of fun and your practical brain 🙂

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