A safe and shared space to be together

17 July 2015

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Mary, Bernadette and Brigitte share their perspectives on coming together as women at JRS UK for their regular prayer and peer support sessions.

The initial aspect for the prayer circle is that the women want to come together to have some expression for their faith. For all of the women this is very important. They have a very strong belief that God will see them through. Also too there is a whole sense of they always want to pray for needs of their families wherever their family members are, they have a very strong connectedness to that, God only knows what those circumstances are. So, it is a place they don’t have to talk out anything they don’t want to talk out, but they express as they need to.

Because the project has now existed for 4 and a half years, there is a sense of community and of trust, and they feel safe, which is very important to them. Although they don’t always talk about their problems, they are sharing with others who have been through similar traumas. It is a space for that one hour or so they can almost let go of the things that are bothering them, where to sleep or find food. There are times when we have celebrated which is important too.

The other element is the respect that they have not been respected in life, so there is a respect that they can pray in their own language, they translate for one another, they can be something about who they are, regardless of language, culture or belief system. It is not about religion, it is about their faith and spirituality. For one it was coming to ‘church’ and coming together and to pray and to share. Before the formal part, they come to chat and support one another, it is a safe, common space. What happens for them, builds and strengthens them.

These women have a very deep faith and a great trust in God. By giving them this opportunity, it helps to strengthen them for what they are going through in their lives. It is very helpful being together and being able to share their faith. They also like the silent prayer, but the mutual support is good. They do go to church many of them, but the fact of praying and sharing on a deeper level with people who have had a similar experience, because you don’t want to talk to everyone about being a refugee or asylum seeker. It gives them an opportunity to express themselves is very valuable.

It is important for women to come for the prayer circle to keep them a little bit busy because when they come only at the Day Centre it is not enough for them. When we pray, we pray according to the situation where they are in, it is a good consolation to their problem. When they come, they are happy to meet other friends in the group and share some ideas.

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Jesuit Refugee Service UK
The Hurtado Jesuit Centre
2 Chandler Street, London E1W 2QT

020 7488 7310

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