This Thursday at the Day Centre we had a visit from a very special guest, Bishop Nicholas Hudson, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster. He has responsibility for the pastoral care of Central and East London, which includes Wapping where the JRS Day Centre is located. His pastoral visit was an opportunity for him to meet our refugee friends, volunteers and staff, gaining a greater understanding of the lives of our friends and the work of JRS UK.
After meeting Sarah Teather, our Director, Bishop Nicholas was given a tour of the building where he met the different people that make up the JRS community. Doing so allowed him to witness directly some of the work that goes on supporting the services we offer, from our Day Centre and Detention support, to our legal project and ‘At Home’ hosting scheme.
In a meeting with some of our volunteers, Bishop Nicholas learnt about the various roles they take on at JRS and what they enjoy most about giving their time to accompany and serve our refugee friends. One volunteer recounted how she found great joy catching up with those she had hosted in the past while helping hand out travel grants at the Day Centre. He heard from several people who offer their time in different ways; visiting our busy kitchen he met with our volunteer chefs and a few friendly faces in some of the religious who were helping serve the food.
Bishop Nicholas joined us for a communal lunch, which we share daily with each other, and listened as our refugee friends shared some of their experiences of seeking sanctuary here in the UK and how they take part in the life of JRS. He spoke with some of those who have been coming to JRS for many years, as they described the long periods of waiting that they experience while negotiating the asylum system. He also chatted to some of our friends about football; after sharing his love of Chelsea he was swiftly reminded of their defeat earlier in the week. He also met the youngest members of our JRS family who were sitting on their mothers’ knees. Our friends were eager to pose for photographs with the Bishop and there were plenty of smiles around the building.
Before leaving Bishop Nicholas said “From the moment I arrived and met with Sarah this morning, I was struck by the sense of accompaniment present at JRS UK. The health of this organisation can be measured by the sheer quality of welcome which I, and many others who attended the Day Centre, have received today.”
We are incredibly grateful to Bishop Nicholas for taking some time out of his very busy schedule and spending a few hours with us. We would like to thank him on behalf of all the staff, volunteers and especially our refugee friends here at JRS UK.
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