Azadi Trust was founded in 1991 by Dr. Robin Fisher, a GP working in Sparkbrook, Birmingham, as a Christian outreach to the large number of drug users in the area. From these early beginnings Azadi has followed the vision that ‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Freedom’ (2 Cor 3:17) which remains our ‘strapline’ to this day, some thirty years on. The surgery and the drugs work had closed by the mid-1990’s, but the Charity remained and in 1997, with the support of the local Anglican church, Christ Church, purchased the old surgery building. This building is now known as Azadi House.
In the early days, the ground floor of Azadi House was the base for activities such as a youth club and a homework club, mainly run by Christ Church members but designed to be accessible to the local community; subsequently the Trust supported projects, such as ‘Bright Sparks’ mother and toddler group and ‘Azadi Tigers’ football team, which operated away from its base. On the basis of these early experiences we don’t seek to ‘set up projects’ but rather to ‘follow what God is doing’ and actively support Christians in the inner-city who want to set up or who are already actively running projects, people who have a vision (and warmth and enthusiasm) to reach others with the love of God but do not want the distraction of establishing a structure to accommodate their vision and who would rather just ‘get on with the job’. Hope Garden Project, who have been part of Azadi for over 10 years, are an example of this.
Inevitably however, consolidation demands good governance and this in turn demands that some sort of structure becomes necessary: Azadi as a Registered Charity can offer that structure as well as providing (free) services like accounting, insurance and protocols. We also offer small-scale funding and fundraising support, and Azadi House offers space for holding small meetings. The Trust sees itself as a ‘vehicle’ for others to come aboard and enable them to travel from A to B. They are welcome to stay aboard for as long as they like, and hopefully, as they travel, find that they come into relationship with and share resources and expertise with like-minded others.
In 2010, the ‘vehicle’ acquired a new ‘chassis’ and became a Charitable Company with a new constitution designed to facilitate new partnerships. As part of the new arrangement we have entered into partnership with ReachGlobal in the setting up and maintenance of Open Door Friendship Centre in the neighbouring suburb of Small Heath over the last eight years.
Azadi Trust currently oversees three projects; Azadi House, Hope Garden,and the Open Door Friendship Community Centre.