Wednesday 12th, June – a few minutes past 6 on a drizzly evening at the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) offices in London. On the agenda: creating a blog for JRS-UK where refugees can share their views and experience.
The Jesuit Refugee Service’s role is to accompany, serve and advocate for refugees and forced migrants. In the UK, our particular concern is for asylum seekers in detention centres or those who have been made destitute by the asylum-seeking process.
In 2012, JRS-UK, in our role as companion, worked with refugees on a series of creative writing workshops run by English PEN as well as a photography project run by Fotosynthesis Community. Uplifting work was produced. In the words of writer and broadcaster Bidisha, the sessions of ‘Big Writing for A Small World’ (where some poems the refugees wrote were published) were “hilarious, heartbreaking, inspiring and baffling”.
We want to share these poems, these pictures and other points of view, experience and stories. But what is the common thread? What words would go in the title of a JRS-UK blog? So, we all chipped in with a word each: volunteers, staff at JRS-UK, the refugees whose blog this is, even the lady who cleans our office; we all participated.
The JRS Voice? Liked then discarded because we didn’t want to sound earnest. Bound Together? This got dropped very fast although it did generate some laughter for its wedding-y undertone. Our intention was to find a name that encompassed that sense of being together for a time in each other’s lives (like our newsletter, called Together) but Bound Together? No, as asylum seekers do move forward in their lives and volunteers come, learn and also move on to new things.
In the end, we settled on The JRS-UK Community Blog – because that is who we are: a community connecting people and building hope.
We hope you enjoy our blog!