At Embrace we want to reach into situations of despair and darkness to see hope restored. We see acts of service as one way in which to do this, offering practical, emotional and spiritual support through:
On a weekly basis the Embrace team drive the streets of the red light area stopping to women involved in prostitution. We offer food, drinks and hygiene bags and try to ensure they are working as safely as possible. This provides us with the opportunity to bring a positive influence to the issues that concern the women and opens the door for further contact.
One to one support
Many women simply want an opportunity to talk to someone they can trust. Once we have made contact with an individual we aim to regularly connect with her, whether that’s over a cup of coffee or going for a walk in the park. Our volunteers make themselves available to meet a woman where she is at and offer space to unpack issues she might be struggling with in a place of acceptance, reassurance and safety.
Many of these relationships are built around genuine friendship but by establishing boundaries at the beginning the ‘tough love’ dynamic provides the sounding board that many women lack when making life choices. We recognise that it takes time to work through challenges, move on from the past and make changes to personal circumstances so we connect with women over the long term.
These provide a forum where the women can discuss topical issues, learn from others and give voice to personal opinion. We often meet over a cup of tea and cake and the space we use offers a comfortable, open and relaxed environment for the group. We recognise that some discussion topics can be tougher than others so we encourage an attitude of tolerance and uphold the right of all women to be respected regardless of background, circumstance, opinion or preference.
The aim of these groups is not only to gain a better understanding of society, the world and each other but also to foster self confidence as women feel more able to speak out and express themselves to one another. We have also found this to be a space where strong friendships have been established, out of which a natural support network has grown.
Rather than reinvent the wheel we make a real effort to signpost women to other service providers where we can. This is especially the case where a woman would benefit from specialist forms ofsupport that we are unable to offer such as: counselling, detox, legal advice or residential rehabilitation for substance addiction. In order to facilitate this we maintain an up-to-date service provider database containing accurate contact details and a description of the services offered. We make this available to our volunteers so that they can refer women where appropriate.
Throughout the year we run events, each with a different focus. Some are seasonal including Christmas and Easter but others include: coffee mornings, clothing giveaways, pamper days or trips out. These are purely aimed at engaging women and their children in positive and fun activities, as many live on the poverty line and financial hardship has prevented them from accessing opportunities available to the majority. For many the past holds many negative or even traumatic memories and we want to be creative and generous in the events we host to enable women to create positive new memories that they can hold on to and reflect on with fondness, as they move forward in life.
As a Christian charity our faith pervades all that we do and inspires our work and outreach. As a team of staff and volunteers that believe in a God who can change lives we facilitate the opportunity for those that are interested to explore the Christian faith and come to know God personally where a desire is expressed.
Understanding that many of those we reach are vulnerable to exploitation we are careful not to exert pressure on individuals or impose a specific viewpoint. We respect the right of each woman to make her own decision and do not discriminate on the basis of faith or other preference. Whilst we make every effort not to offend individuals we also make no secret of our faith and will not compromise our ethos.
For women looking to receive spiritual support we offer:
- Prayer on outreach (either with the woman or the team take requests away)
- Prayer during one- to- one appointments
- Prayer at events (individual not collective)
- Mentoring from a Christian perspective
- Opportunity to explore the Christian faith during focussed discussion groups or Bible studies
- Conversation with Christian volunteers or staff
- Signposting to a local church (Sunday services, mid- week crèche, Alpha course, debt counselling etc…)