Women 4 Women meets monthly at JRS UK as a peer support for women who have been made destitute by the UK asylum process. Facilitator and participants share why it matters.
All the ladies who come have no way to get money so we have to help them for transport and also for food, so they can eat first. Sometimes they are hungry when they come, so a fruit or biscuits helps them.
“For me, it has improved my life, otherwise, there is nothing for me to do in the day, you take it away, you take away my life. The others, they need it too. The staff are very friendly, we look to the positive for each other. I appreciate it very well.”
For the women’s peer support group, it is a very clear piece of time for them, doing exercises, learning how to do massage or some mediation, it is time out for them. It is about their wellbeing, to feel, they can focus on themselves, such when we do creative things. They do drawing or colouring, expressing themselves in some way, they have gone back to a time in their lives that they can’t have now, when they can just be.
We started off with 4 and those who have moved on have their papers, but it allows others new to come in as others move on. There is now a stability (in the midst of very chaotic lives). This year we started with a couple of Eritrean women who have now brought their friends. There is a sense of belonging and connectedness, it is not just a piece of fruit or the bus fare that they benefit from.
It depends on the person, but it can give a certain confidence. Some come uncertain and withdrawn, but now are more expressive and relaxed around people. It helps them more to be themselves also. Their confidence has been shattered with what they have been through.
“As asylum seekers we have lost our competence. I would like to improve, to do some training, share skills in cooking, baking, sewing, drawing… all creative things where we can have the satisfaction that we have made something from start to finish. To have some skills where in future I will be able to learn to stand again on my own two feet.”
A couple of participants now help lead. One has come out of herself and has more confidence and tremendously helpful. They help with preparation and good to see women who have had the same experiences can now lead.
Make a donation to help pay the bus passes of the women who attend: www.justgiving.com/jesuitrefugeeservice