Despite what it may have us think, with its long dark nights and cold short days, January is a time filled with hope. Each New Year presents the opportunity to take stock of the year just passed, to remember the joys the year brought us and to let those less enjoyable moments fade into past existence. We turn our minds to the future and, with lists of resolutions in our minds, hope that this year can be better and wish that many blessings lie ahead.
In any normal year we would be leaving the frivolities and excitement of Christmas behind us as we strive into January with a renewed enthusiasm, promises of healthy eating and ‘Dry January’ Challenges ready to go. However 2020 has been far from a normal year. Our Christmas celebrations will have changed and we were not able to be around the usual family and friends as we continued to face the challenges of this pandemic. As 2021 begins it seems that more challenges will loom ahead as we are faced with another lockdown.
Yet, we hold on to hope.
Although there may have been challenges throughout 2020 and the pandemic, we also saw hope and resilience grow in the face of this adversity. Some of us may have had the opportunity to become more closely connected with our local community, to see areas of need where we did not previously realise there were any, or the additional time and opportunity to give to helping others. At JRS, our mission to accompany and serve has taken us to places we would never have thought possible with a Distribution Centre replacing our Day Centre so as to ensure we could get food and other essential items out to our friends across London. We have continued to be present for those in detention and those who have been released back into the community by providing pastoral and practical support over the phone, ensuring we continue to be alongside those who have been increasingly isolated by this pandemic.
As I reflect on the year just passed and turn my mind to the hopes of the New Year, I am reminded of the resolutions our Post Detention Support Group created for 2020. Although it seems an age ago, this time last year I was able to sit with members of the Post Detention Support Group at the JRS offices; something I hope to be able to do again when the time is right. In our first meeting of the year we shared what our wishes were for 2020 and the changes we wanted to see both in our own lives but also in society, a society that for the members of the group had been marginalising and isolating them for many years. As I take stock of the year just gone and look ahead to this year, I hold on to many of the same hopes from that meeting. I hope that by sharing them with you today I may be able to finish this new year with a few more ticked off the list than I managed in 2020.
This year, we hope:
- For an end to Indefinite Detention
- For a more caring society
- For good things in my, and others’, lives
- For health
- For peace in the world
- To live freely everywhere.
With prayers and best wishes,
Will Neal is Detention Outreach Officer at JRS and accompanies those held at Heathrow Immigration Removal Centres, Harmondsworth and Colnbrook.
Each month you are invited into a space of prayer and reflection by a different JRS team member. Sign up to our monthly e-mail ‘Praying with Detainees’