Refugee friends, volunteers and staff shared the hospitality and accompaniment which has taken place over the last year, at JRS’s online event ‘A Year on the Road’. The event was hosted as part of JRS’s Accompaniment in Action series and took place on Zoom with live-streaming on Facebook last night.
Since the first lockdown in March 2020, JRS were forced to shift services on to the road, delivering support to refugees wherever they were spending lockdown. This meant the temporary suspension of the weekly Thursday Day Centre, which was a great source of accompaniment and practical assistance for refugee friends facing destitution, as well as a nutritious hot meal served by JRS volunteers. JRS has continued to provide emotional and practical support during the last year through the Emergency Response Team which was set up a year ago.
Supporters heard from Rhiannon Prideaux, JRS’s ERT Coordinator, and Aidan Cantwell, Senior Operations Manager, and from Debbie, an Emergency Response volunteer who spoke about her experiences delivering to refugees in London. She said:
“It has been truly wonderful. I think everything was so well run, really organised and professional. I think it’s hospitality across the whole board. Of course some mornings, I turn up and I’m tired and frustrated – but no matter how I’ve gone out, I come back with just a real sense of joy, delight, privilege in my heart.
“I think I’d sum it up as ‘love on the doorstep’ – it’s about relationships. I started off not knowing anybody, and it took a while to remember faces and names, but just with the repetition over the year, I’ve been really humbled by taking food to somebody and just saying ‘how are you?’. It’s so great now to go out and think ‘gosh I’m going to see this person, and this person, and their children’. That’s a moment on the doorstep that really is [accompaniment]. it might not be a very long space of time, but it matters.”
Rhiannon and Aidan also shared the complex, practical elements involved in setting up and continuing the amazing work of the Emergency Response; including the Equals cards initiative which allows refugee friends to receive regular hardship payments remotely, and mobile phone credit and data top ups which allow refugees to keep in contact with services and loved ones.
Supporters were invited to joint JRS volunteers, and Jesuit novices, Sam & Mikhael on a day on the road in their video diary, and messages from refugee friends who have received support over the last year were shared in an uplifting presentation.
The next event in JRS’s Accompaniment in Action series will take place next month.
You can watch a full recording of the event on our Facebook Page.
Find out more about our Accompaniment in Action series