Last Friday JRS UK invited our Gospel Choir to our centre in Wapping, to celebrate the end of Refugee Week. The choir performed contemporary gospel pieces, alongside some well-known favourites, including ‘Oh Happy Day.’
Matilda Tonkin Wells, who helps to co-ordinate the choir, explains, “Singing with others is a great way to be in community – it’s all about listening to each other, finding rhythms, harmonies and grooves! The JRS Gospel Choir is an opportunity for our refugee friends to come together through music as well as being an important space to make friends and just be!”
The evening started with a warm welcome – a selection of drinks and nibbles were available in the conference room, and people thoroughly enjoyed what was on offer. Afterwards, JRS UK Director, Sarah Teather, introduced our gospel choir before the singing commenced.
The choir was directed by Magdalena Supel from Soul Sanctuary, who had everyone up on their feet dancing and singing together.
All the members of the JRS Gospel Choir are refugees and people seeking asylum; who are supported by JRS UK. Each Wednesday afternoon the choir have gathered to practice and rehearse for Friday’s event.
The asylum and immigration system leaves thousands desolate and isolated.
Rhiannon Croker, our new Communications Assistant commented that: “The music was a true expression of humanity and provided a language, a space, and a chance for our refugee friends to communicate their faith. It was an absolute honour to listen to them perform and join in with this uplifting and soul inspiring event.”
Han, one of our refugee friends, previously mentioned that she has found particular joy in the Refugee Gospel Choir, saying: “I find it very inspiring and it is calming, a sort of stress reliever. It encourages me to face challenges in life, because it is gospel song. It motivates and it is very inspiring to move forward in life. It rejuvenates the mind and soul.”
The choir concert gave us a glimpse at our friends’ indomitable courage, resilience, and determination. JRS UK’s mission is to accompany refugees, and the concert beautifully articulated such feelings of community and mutuality.
We are always in need of physical donations to support our refugee friends, like Han and the other choir members, can you help?