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It was a privilege and blessing to be able to support the emergence of One 25 over 20 years ago in my parish in central Bristol. Christian women from many parishes rapidly said YES and over the years have been volunteering to help out. Churches from many denominations said YES and offered practical support as well as praying for the women and the workers. The foundation is the 3 c's: care, contraceptives and chocolate, without judgement and without giving up on the women, backing it all by prayer. For me it has been sharing the love of God and hope in ways I could never have done but I am so glad it continues to happen with imagination now . When Polly told me how they have adjusted to the present situation to continue to carry on with their YES to the women on the street I wanted to share it with people here. It is a matter of seeing another as a child of God too. Christ sees them as the risen Christ sees us, with compassion, and hope.
My friend Polly, who works at One 25 wrote:
We serve the women with:-
A van that goes out five nights a week to deliver condoms, personal alarms and food to the places where the women are working.
A drop in open four afternoons a week providing a hot meal, a shower, laundry facilities, creativity projects, and access to a sexual health nurse, wound care nurse, GP, and a prescribing nurse who can prescribe heroin substitutes.
A highly expert casework team who work with women with their addiction, housing, health, criminal justice and domestic/sexual violence issues.
We host the Bristol section of the national Pause project, which supports women who have had two or more children removed from their care and are at risk of repeated pregnancies.
Peony runs for women who are ready to move on from multiple disadvantages with meaningful and therapeutic activities.
The van is still going out five nights a week, nearly always with a caseworker on board. Women can no longer get on board, but they can talk and receive anything they need, through the window.
The drop in is closed but women can come to the door for a food bag, but they are encouraged to stay at home.
Caseworkers and practitioners from One25, Pause and Peony, are in touch with women by phone daily. We have a stock of phones so when someone has been identified to be without one, we can provide. Caseworkers and practitioners are also in touch with keyworkers from other organisations.
The drop in team bags up food and hygiene products, which comes from a food bank, a wholesaler and our stocks. These are taken out by the caseworkers and practitioners to the places where the women are living or staying. Bags of activities are also provided to help alleviate boredom and lessen the possibility of women going out.
Amy, our fundraising manager, wrote the following:
It is such strange times and we are working hard to keep as much going as we possibly can. We’ve had to reduce and prioritise provision but I am very pleased to say that the van is going out, albeit with a window service rather than women getting on board. Staff are working very hard to deliver food to women who won’t otherwise be able to eat and we’ve also been able to support a number of women to get accommodation so we’re hugely grateful for that.
We’re keeping the van Freephone number operational through the day so that women can call us if they don’t have credit, and we’ve been giving out phones to women who don’t have them so that we can keep in touch better. Our Peony team have been running virtual sessions for women: reading and writing, self care and yoga have all been much appreciated. We’ve also been making up art packs which we’ve been giving to women so that they can have some creative outlet.
We’re focused on keeping contact with women as much as possible and continuing to deliver services as we always do. Meeting women where they are (as much as we can) and doing whatever we can to make sure that they know that they are loved and not alone.
We’re posting updates on our website at http://www.one25.org.uk/covid-
Please pray for the staff and volunteers working with the women, for the safety of the women, especially for those still out on the streets. And let us give thanks for all the imaginative ways One 25 is able to continue to support the women in these times of lockdown.