‘Azadi House’ was probably originally a family home but had been a GP’s surgery before the practice being taken over by Dr Robin Fisher, the founder of Azadi Trust, in the 1980s. In 1997, after the closure of the practice, the Trust itself purchased the surgery building, with support from Christ Church Sparkbrook and one major donor. The internal configuration and use of the building have varied over the years but Azadi House has retained a close connection with Christ Church, which is just 100 yards ‘down the road’.
Even before its acquisition by the Trust, Azadi House had had residents, usually young single men connected with or serving the church locally, occupying the first floor. Also, a small flat had been created at the rear of the building, originally to provide accommodation for the Trust’s drugs worker (see Trust History). Over the years Azadi House has been home to 20 – 25 different people of at least a dozen nationalities.
The Workshop @ Azadi House
At the time of the acquisition, two large vacant ground floor rooms were set aside for what was broad ‘community activities’: these have included, over the years, Azadi’s own youth club, a long-running homework club, a base for Parish Nursing, and even (following the demolition of the original Christ Church building in 2007), consecration as a place of worship for the Christ Church congregation. In 2008, an annexe to one side of the house (‘The Workshop’) was renovated and became a third ‘community room’, but with separate access and its own facilities.
In 2012, with the opening of the new Christ Church building nearby, the need for facilities for community outreach diminished, so the two large ground floor rooms have been converted for residential use, although the Workshop has been retained as a room for use by the church and community, primarily as a place for prayer and small meetings. A guest room has been made available upstairs for residents’ visitors and people needing to stay short-term. In 2018, the Trustees revisited the original vision for Azadi House and the aim is now to re-establish a mutually supportive Christian community that also seeks to serve the community around it.